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How Today's Sharpest IoT Brands Can Keep Their Edge

October 17, 2016

Last year, nearly 20 percent of U.S. broadband households reported owning a smart home device like a thermostat or a central home controller. By 2025, that's expected to jump to two-thirds of U.S. broadband households.

If there's one product, in particular, that's bringing the Internet of Things (IoT) into American homes, it's Amazon's Echo. In April, Amazon sold more than 3 million Echo units, outpacing even its popular Kindle e-reader. Echo integrates cleanly with other smart home devices, like the Philips Hue and Nest, making the connected speaker especially attractive to nontechnical owners.

Consumers love Echo's Alexa in a way they never quite did Apple's Siri for good reason: Connected to other home devices, Alexa is far more capable. In coming years, homes will become interactive webs of connected devices like Echo, giving consumers even more reason to love their IoT products.

Today's IoT Leaders

More and more companies are connecting to the IoT, and in 2017, today's top smart products will face stiffer competition than ever before. To fend off rivals, here's how they'll need to improve:

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Amazon has an ecosystem of affordable connected devices that it is continually growing. While the original Echo was an all-in-one solution, the Echo Dot and Amazon Tap both build on its portability and versatility, letting users hook up their own Bluetooth speakers or take Alexa on the go.

In 2017, we're hoping Amazon rolls out more third-party integrations for Echo's Alexa. The easier it is for consumers to plant Alexa in their lives, the more the Alexa ecosystem will grow. Amazon has already started to do this by taking Alexa for a drive with Ford's SYNC in-car tech platform.

Withings

Best known for its well-designed, connected health devices, Withings produces scales, blood pressure monitors, and various smart watches. The company uses a parent app to help its connected products talk to one another, giving the user a complete picture of his or her health history.

Frankly, Withings is doing a great job delivering value to customers, but in 2017, it can do better. Withings' current smart offerings simply add internet connectivity to previously existing products. With Nokia's recent acquisition of Withings, the healthcare products company is well positioned to develop completely new connected health devices in the new year.

August Smart Lock

August Smart Lock

The August Smart Lock is an integrated locking system that unlocks automatically as you approach your house. For customers who want more security, August can be customized to the length of time virtual keys have access. This makes August perfect for Airbnb renters, multi-tenant properties, and homeowners looking for peace of mind.

Today, August must be set up to work with existing third-party locks, so a step forward for August would be to create hardware that includes the bolt lock itself. Taking control of the entire locking mechanism means August won't have to worry about catering to every type of existing lock and can instead focus on improving the hardward design and integration.

Belkin Wemo Insight Power

Belkin's smart outlet lets the user turn devices plugged into the outlet on or off no matter where they are. Its newest iteration can send a notification if it detects a device starts to use power, like if your air conditioner kicks on when you aren’t home. The product also helps customers cut energy costs, showing users a device-by-device breakdown of how much electricity they're using.

Belkin's big challenge is untethering Wemo from If This Then That (IFTTT). The current list of IFTT integrations is impressive, but it means customers might need to jump between several apps just to switch off the TV. Wemo's physical housing could also shrink in size, as it sometimes blocks nearby outlets when plugged in.

Nest Thermometer

Nest

After Echo, Nest is probably the IoT product consumers know best. Its connected thermostats, smoke detectors, and cameras have won users' hearts for their simplicity and functionality. The thermostat, in particular, requires only minimal setup, and it learns user preferences and customizes itself based on home HVAC setups. Originally started by two ex-Apple engineers, Google purchased the company four years later to build out its Google Home ecosystem.

The recent unveiling of Google Home is starting to make the future of Nest look cloudy. If Google continues supporting it, Nest's next step could be to keep growing third-party integrations. The smart home brand already has lots of “works with Nest” partnerships, and when Google gets around to infusing Nest technologies into Google Home, third-party integrations will become even more important. 

With rumors going around that Apple will also be entering the fray, the home-automation space will soon be ripe with competition. In 2017, businesses can bet IoT technologies will boom, and by 2020, they may be so ubiquitous that the term "IoT" falls out of favor.

Whatever the future holds, Yeti wants to help brands build standout IoT products. Check out EVP of Technology Rudy Mutter's "10-Tip Guide to IoT Product Design," and contact us about taking your smart devices from bright to brilliant.

Image credit Amazon

is a Yeti Alum. He designs and builds digital products to help solve meaningful problems. You'll probably find him behind the lens of his camera. Follow Mike on Twitter.

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