What smart home adverts tell us about the potential power of connected home tech

You know you want it, you're just not sure what you'll do with it

I glided past a never-ending parade of Nest Cam ads on a travelator last week in Waterloo station. You might think I was greeted by image after image illustrating how its new security camera could keep me, my family and my belongings safe from intruders. In ad execs's minds, I'd guess I have kids and a big, beautiful detached house.

But no, what Nest did was open up the debate around why people buy connected smart home tech beyond the key boring-but-useful reasons of keeping everyone (and everything) safe, saving time and saving money.

But are these alternative scenarios more than just marketing gimmicks? Let's take a look.

Read this: Nest vs Honeywell - the heat is on

Getting absolutely everything on video

And yes that includes burglars. But to kick off with Nest's ads for its new Cam, notice that they include marketing lines like 'witness the mayhem in glorious HD', 'know whodunnit' and 'because first steps only happen once'.

In other words, if the security camera is always on, you won't miss any memories that you create in your home. Babies toddling into toddlerhood or simply an awesome house party that you tried to video on your Android phone but were too drunk to switch it to low light mode.

Read this: Track your smart home carbon footprint with wearables

In 2015, everything is up for quantifying - health, food, sleep, entertainment, dating, you name it. As well as tracking every minute of our lives, the trend is - like it or not - moving towards recording every minute of our lives too with wearable lifelogging cameras being launched alongside the typical sporty GoPro models.

Essentially, the smart home of the future will be able to make you a montage, from multiple camera angles, of a great evening entertaining or a 10th birthday party without you taking any time out of the event to capture it.

Saving not just time but mental energy

Here's a controversial smart home ad - not for the message but for the odd song that serves as the soundtrack. That and the fact it was apparently overplayed in TV ad breaks last year.

The advert is for Hive's smart Active Heating thermostat and each verse ends in the reassuring reminder that no matter what you're doing Hive will automatically take care of your heating at home with remote monitoring via phones and tablets.

OK, we all know the smart home should, in theory, save us time. But what Hive's ad team is getting at here is that an automated home also frees up our mind to be present in our leisure time too, the same idea behind convenience-on-steroids products like Amazon Dash. It's simply one less thing to think about and this is a powerful concept. Estimates for how many 'items' we can hold in our conscious mind range from three to four to around six at any one time - this is why we forget where we left our keys when we are distracted.

So consider this, if your home is ticking along without you, saving energy, money and the planet, that's one brain item spare to notice, say, the musical sound of city streets that you've never noticed before. Much less annoying to listen to than this advert.

Unshackling virtual assistants from phones

It's safe to say that Siri, Google Now and Cortana are nearing a place where we feel that we can use them accurately and reliably. But many people, especially shy Brits, don't fancy barking at phones and smartwatches in the street. So many of the use cases for Siri et al really apply to when you're at home, in private, on your own or with family.

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This cheesy Amazon Echo ad manages to show the benefits of a device that can hear you from across the room using 'far field voice recognition' tech - once you say the wake word - and respond to natural, conversational language.

It's easy to overlook yet another odd, potentially creepy, hardware launch from Amazon. But this shouldn't be understated as it's really damn impressive - once Echo and others can hook up to every appliance and gadget in our homes, then we'll really be talking.

And when smart homes go wrong...

This is, of course, an advert for home insurance.


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