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Get Smart About the Future of Housewares

In an increasingly connected society, it should come as no surprise that consumers are looking at how technology can improve and streamline their day-to-day lives. People are accustomed to having solutions at the touch of a button, and housewares manufacturers are coming closer to developing a true smart home.

While the “internet of things” can bring new technologies to consumers living rooms, the advancement of smart technology has not come without road blocks. Last month, a lunchtime panel called “How the Smart Home is Disrupting Housewares (and What to Do About It)” took place at the 2017 International Home + Housewares Show in Chicago. The panel was made up of several industry experts who provided their insights on the future of smart technology in housewares.

Nathan Smith, founder and chief technology officer of Wink, a smart home technology platform that allows users to use multiple apps in one place and one of the panelists shared his belief that manufacturers of smart technology items must be smart themselves about adding value and convenience into their products.

“I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning and says ‘Oh, I want to get a smart home.’ The terminology itself is somewhat scary,” says Smith during the panel.

With fewer areas of the home being untethered from the outside world, independent hardware retailers must stay on the forefront of this technology to satisfy future consumers. The days of connected devices being relegated to the computer store are gone, and retailers should be prepared to carry, and be knowledgeable of, anything from Wi-Fi connected meat probes to interactive merchandising displays.

The show’s panel highlighted several areas that will be key for connected devices around the home in 2017. They include:

  • Connection Disconnect: While adding Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connections to items such as lightbulbs and furnaces can offer convenience, the rush to link up an entire home shouldn’t overtake the usefulness of the product. Not everything in ones house needs to buzz a phone for attention.
  • Safety First: As society becomes more integrated, it has become harder to shut away from the digital world. That has opened up security risks like identity theft and hacking. The prevalence of connected devices makes those threats even more serious. Products that could be hacked to gain personal information must be up to the task of protecting that information.
  • Eye on Integration: The onset of smart housewares has meant multiple companies producing similar products, but not all of them like to play nicely together. Numerous apps have been designed to integrate a smart product into a home’s wireless network, but few consumers want so many apps clogging up their smart phones and tablets. Consumers will continue to look for items that can link together while not forcing them into one manufacturer or product line.
  • Speak Up: The rise of voice-activated systems such as Amazon’s Alexa devices have shown the advancements made in smart technology, and consumers have responded. Not all smart systems have to flow through a phone or tablet, opening up even more doors for smart devices in the home.

About Chad Husted

Chad is an assistant editor for Hardware Retailing magazine. A Purdue University graduate, Chad has covered sports and news at the high school, college and Olympic levels as a sports writer, editor and designer for multiple newspapers. Prior to joining the NRHA, he was the sports editor for the Herald Journal in Monticello, Indiana, and a designer and copy editor for the AIM Media Indiana group in Columbus, Indiana. When not cultivating his beard, he enjoys backpacking, cooking, traveling and watching too much sports and Netflix.

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