The Internet of Things & Design

The Internet of Things has taken society by storm over these past several years. Technology has advanced in more ways than most could have imagined in a seemingly short period of time. Developers have been so engrossed in product network connectivity and automation, that what we’re experiencing now is a lack in product design. The level of sophistication that we’re seeing in our technology requires an even greater consideration when it comes to product design. The Harvard Business Review recently released an article which reflects on the current this compromise between the Internet of Things and product design.


Society has become so accustomed to efficiency in service since the surplus of on-demand apps. Developers are aiming to please those consumers, and bring that same automation and efficiency into their homes, thus, home automation has been rapidly expanding over these past few years. From network connected refrigerators to voice service products that control your home security system, the level of technological expertise is nothing short of brilliant.


The Amazon Echo, which has been referred to as an “intelligent personal assistant”, is a voice service product designed to control various systems in your home. While certainly an ideal concept, the Amazon Echo is the perfect reflection of imbalance between the Internet of Things and design. For one, the Amazon Echo is a cylinder shaped speaker, that, while transportable, isn’t the ideal when you think of an “intelligent personal assistant”. The ideal here would be smaller devices, stationed throughout that home that extend for wider ranges, or more simply through the consumer’s mobile device. There’s a certain level of sophistication that went into the machine-to-machine connectivity for the Amazon Echo, unfortunately that same level of sophistication wasn’t reciprocated in the product design. The entire concept behind consumer-focused Internet of Things, is to fully integrate and connect personal and home devices. Companies are so rushed to exploit new Internet of Things applications, that they’re leaving a lot on the table when it comes to product design.


If you’re looking to appeal to the mass market of on-demand consumers, who appreciate automation and efficiency, you need more than just the Internet of Things. In the article for the Harvard Business Review, authors Nelson and Metaxatos reiterate the shortcomings here, “Customers do not buy IoT”. The article goes on address the seemingly lost reality that most consumers “are unaware of what IoT is or does”. Sure, consumers appreciate cutting edge technology and software, but without a solid and fundamental product design, they’ll likely shy away from your product.


Product developers will need to consider the complexities of their products and the user experience. The optimal integration of design and innovation will result in product that simplifies and enriches the consumer’s life. While the Internet of Things certainly increases a product’s value, proper function that is easily accessible is valued more highly amongst consumers.


Check out the Harvard Business Review article, which features five ways that technology and design can build successful partnerships.