How artificially intelligent should our homes be

At the time, the most advanced thermostat cost several hundred dollars and came with a colour touchscreen display that included a digital calendar and photo album. “The technology wasn’t focused on what actually matters, i.e. helping you to reduce your energy consumption and your bills,” says Fadell. “It just layered on all this useless, whizzy stuff. And it was really ugly.”

Microsoft’s Plan for the Internet of Things

The Xbox One may be the beginning for Microsoft’s Home 2.0 Internet of Things Platform.

Having read Mark Wilson’s article on this, I began thinking about the challenges many of the Internet of Things platform startups will have to face. Especially when the big boys start their focus on this area.

With successful Kickstarter campaigns by platforms like Smart Things we’ve seen the popularity of such services. With all the resources and experiences that companies like Apple, Google and Microsoft have what can startups do to make it as they build Internet of Things/smart home operating systems? From what I can see so far, speed seems quite essential. These companies are yet to release anything in this area and getting first to market with a whole host of products having been designed by other startups and companies could gain the momentum needed to rise above the expected offering from these giants.

But what else is it that start ups can do which these companies can not/won’t do? The flexibility of smaller companies and being able to try out various business models without worrying about ruining a brand image could have a lot of value. Especially when experimenting with some really unique models, which carry high uncertainty.

In terms of Microsoft they’re in a perfect position to capture this home market. With their focus on the living room, with the Xbox range, this could serve as a fundamental hub for your smart home.

“And I can’t overstate its importance: As Google tracks and anticipates our needs through search and Android, and Apple leverages countless iOS devices to learn about all of us, Microsoft has spotted its advantage over both companies in one key spot: The living room, and every bit of our domestic lives, connected to it.”

Mark Wilson in his article: Microsoft’s Home 2.0 Will Connect Xbox One To The Internet Of Things

For me, I think there will always be a place for the hardware startups. These platforms are going to be reliant on people designing a wide range of products that are compatible and offer consumers choice. Maybe not as lucrative as owning the OS but the risk is severely reduced, whilst there is still huge potential for growth, look at Samsung’s hardware business for example.

Also, I find hardware much more fun ;)

I’d love to know anyone’s thoughts on how smaller platform companies might make it work in the wake of the big boys. Comment below to join the discussion.

The Future of Home Products by 2020

link to PDF

So, this is the dissertation I wrote for my undergraduate degree doing Product Design and Manufacture at the University of Nottingham. It’s titled;

How the potential changes in technology and the resultant impact on society will affect the design of home products in the next 8 years.

It’s a relatively short report 3000-4000 words, but I had a great time writing it and I think it contains some interesting theories about how our homes may change soon.

Abstractcharlie jackson dissertation

This report analyses how home products have changed from 1900 – 2012 and uses this analysis, combined with futurologist literature, to present and explain four important trends which will affect home products from 2012 to 2020. The report follows the effects of mass production, wars, social responsibility and technology on design as well as how these affect and initiated the design movements, such as modernism and post modernism. It is shown that the four defining trends are:

  • A physical digital world.
  • Personalisation.
  • The connected home.
  •  Adaptive technology.

With these trends a future scenario is proposed in which trends and fashions are short lived, self expression in the home becomes more popular and home products become more connected to the internet and begin to be more adaptive to human lifestyles. Some example future products are described including a larger and more important role of the internet enabled television, SMART home lighting and domestic 3D printers. The accuracies and inaccuracies of the report are mentioned, including a possible need for a more extensive report and the effectiveness of historical analysis.

This report aims to help inform the readers thoughts about emerging home trends so that they are more informed for the development and creation of their own projects.


  • Introduction
  • 1900 – 1950
    • Mass Production and the End of Ornamentation
    • The Wars
    • Technology
    • Notable Home Designs
  • 1950 – 2000
    • Post War
    • Postmodernism
    • Environment
    • Technology
    • Notable Home Designs
  • 2000 – 2012
    • What the People Want
    • Globalisation
    • Systems of Integration
    • A Design For You or Me
    • Sustainability
    • Technology
    • Notable Home Designs
  • Discussion
    • Introduction
    • Trend Analysis
      • A Physical Digital World
      • Personalisation
      • Connected Home
      • Adaptive Technology
    • 2012 – 2020
      • Creative Individuals
      • SMART Home
      • Compatibility
      • Notable Home Designs
  • Conclusions and Recommendations
  • References
    • Books
    • Websites
    • Figures
  • Appendix A

link to PDF