On this page of my sketchbook I used a dice rolling exercise (Barnard & Briscoe, 2016) to explore different name combinations for the potential company. Initially I gravitated towards BubbleHome as a concept.
I then completed two iterations of the Lean Business canvas and fleshed out the idea a bit more.
To summarise the main points, as this plan is likely to evolve over time:
Problem - top 3 problems
- Each device has its own management system - this is a lot to keep track of
- There is not a user-friendly way to map and monitor a smart home ecosystem in one place
- Devices can have significant security issues when not setup correctly
Solution - top 3 solutions
- Aggregate operational updates from devices via open api
- Provide a mapping tool allowing users to position devices in a model of their home and review synchronous operations
- Provide security advice based on device ecosystem and configuration patterns.
The cost structure versus the customer segment is a bit of a sore point in the canvas plans. The development costs seem like they will be very high in comparison to the small audience for this product in Europe. Marketing this product to US consumers might reap more benefits as there are a greater number of smart home products specifically marketed in the United States. The research to prove this is largely behind heady pay walls (NPD, 2017) but the main products such as Nest (Google, 2017b) and SmartThings (Samsung, 2017) were initially launched in the United States and therefore logically it makes sense that they may have larger customer segments in the United States as opposed to Europe. Another factor which I was able to locate recent research on was that security cameras are the most popular devices (NPD, 2016). This emphasis on security could serve my solution as well, as IP cameras are for security, but if they are compromised that could present some huge privacy issues and security issues for the end-user. It reminds me of the Shodan baby cam story (Porup, 2016) from last year and this thread on Reddit (jenn_and_tonic, 2016):
I spent a bit of time sketching logo ideas for a logo. I felt like I wanted BubbleHome to be approachable so initially I considered a bespoke serif script font. However, this would be rather unconventional for a tech-focused company where clean sans-serif screen fonts are the norm. I tried out the idea of including a house pictogram in the logo, but it kept looking more like an upload symbol than a house/home and I felt that it would narrow the scope of the solution (visually exclusive; what about apartments?), and there might be future expansion into corporate solutions.
This version was too busy and was really just a test. The blue background seemed caring and trustworthy, as did the circular bubble formation. I decided to take these elements forward to the next version. Font: DIN Alternate Bold // Background colour: #448ccb
I really liked this version and the evolution of “IoT” for Internet of Things becoming a trademark-like descriptor providing immediate context. To back up my assumption that IoT is an understood concept, I did a bit of digging in Google Trends (Google, 2017a). I compared several search terms and was interested to find that the interest in IoT now far outstrips “Internet of Things” although it could be that some are searching to find out what the acronym means! I also looked at “Smart Home” and “IFTTT” (main competitor in theory) for comparison. Another interesting observation was that the “Smart Home” term seems to be greater interest in the United States and the United Kingdom and “IoT” seems to be more prevalent elsewhere - this might be partially explained by the translation of Smart Home into different languages. This is something to bear in mind though with regard to marketing.
I got as far as creating a Hero image for the Bubble or BubbleHome concept and then found that there was app builder with the name Bubble (https://bubble.is/) and very distinctive logo and I felt that this would like affect the success of the concept as an independent brand.
Back to the drawing board…
Porup, J. M. (2016, January 23). “Internet of Things” security is hilariously broken and getting worse. ArsTechnica. Retrieved from https://arstechnica.com/security/2016/01/how-to-search-the-internet-of-things-for-photos-of-sleeping-babies/
Barnard, D. & Briscoe, R. (2016, June 14). Workshop on creating games and playful interations for adult learning in public spaces. Workshop presented at the first conference on Playful Learning, Manchester, UK. Abstract retrieved from http://conference.playthinklearn.net/blog/programme/full-abstracts-thursday-14th#10
Google. (2017a). Google trends search [Computer software]. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/trends/explore?q=smart%20home,IFTTT,Internet%20of%20Things,IoT
Google. (2017b). Nest learning thermostat. Retrieved from the Nest website: https://nest.com/uk/
jenn_and_tonic. (2016, June 19). I bought and returned a set of WiFi connected home security cameras. Forgot to delete my account and I can now watch the new owner [Electronic forum post]. Retrieved from https://redd.it/4ortwb
Maurya, A. (2016). Lean canvas. Retrieved from https://leanstack.com/lean-canvas/
NPD. (2016). Network connected cameras account for the majority, 61 percent, of U.S. home automation industry revenues. Retrieved from https://www.npd.com/wps/portal/npd/us/news/press-releases/2016/safety-and-security-are-lead-drivers-in-smart-home-technology-interest--according-to-npd-connected-intelligence/
NPD. (2017). Home automation. Retrieved from http://www.connected-intelligence.com/our-research/home-automation
Samsung. (2017). SmartThings - smart home system. Retrieved from the Samsung SmartThings website: https://www.smartthings.com/uk/