News Feature | July 16, 2015

Target Puts Home Automation To The Test

By Brianna Ahearn, contributing writer

Target Home Automation

The “Internet of Things,” the quest to connect everything in the home on a network, has been discussed by retail experts as the coming revolution. Recent moves by retailers have put the Internet of Things quest to the test, as stores begin setting up demonstrations of how these devices can function in a consumer's daily life. Sears first launched their entry into this space in 2014, with their Connected Home Shops, and Target is now the newest retailer to bring a connected home space to the consumer.

Last week, Target launched their “Target Open House,” an interactive 3,500 square foot space in San Francisco’s Metreon shopping center. Within the transparent acrylic walls, the focus is on demonstrating how 35 smart home gadgets for security, entertainment and function can work in a typical home. While other retailers have created connected home spaces to display all of their available smart home products, Target is letting consumers see how the devices can work together. The retailer is using the free home automation app Yonomi to create scenarios of life with a connected home. Yonomi links up with connected home devices wirelessly in the cloud and works on iOS and Android devices, to integrate your devices into your daily routine. As Target uses it, consumers are able to see how a baby monitor can detect movement in a crib, then communicate the message to the parent's mobile phone, while a speaker system plays a soothing melody for the child. Here the emphasis is how a smart home gadget works and what is does for the consumer.

“Putting a house in the space, we felt, was the most relatable and welcoming way to introduce these products,” says Todd Waterbury, Target’s chief creative officer. “What we’re trying to do is humanize and personalize the benefits of these products, as well as show them working in concert. It’s really about relevant storytelling and creating a destination for engagement and discovery.”

The world of home automation is still in its infancy but is quickly growing as major retailers see the category's potential. Garnet, an American information technology research firm, predicts by 2022 that a typical home could contain as many as 500 smart devices, and in the 2015 iControl Networks State of the Smart Home Report, 50% of North Americans surveyed say they plan to purchase at least one smart home device in the next year.

Target's Open House, as well as Best Buy, Lowe's and other retailer's smart home installations, will likely help educate the public at large about the smart home. As consumers learn about connected homes, so will Target, as they get real-time feedback from consumer interactions in the Open House.

“From a strategic perspective, we see Internet of Things as a megatrend on the horizon. We know it’s going to generate huge value,” says Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer, whose “Enterprise Growth Initiatives” team created Target Open House. “We’re using Open House to test the trend, both for us and for guests.”

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