The Internet of Things (IoT) promises a world in which the most ordinary items in our homes will be able to predict our needs, adapt to our tastes and market to us in new and intelligent ways.
But how much of a distant future is this world? Could it be closer than we realise?
Samsung certainly thinks so. Over the past few years, it has focused its technological innovation on connected and AI-powered smart devices, like smart televisions, fridges, vacuum cleaners and more – designed to usher in a new type of home where everything is connected.
Rebecca Hirst is Home Marketing Director at Samsung Electronics, a new role which sees her taking ownership of all things found in the home, including Samsung’s futuristic connected devices. Together with David Coombs, Head of Strategic Services at Cheil UK, she’ll be speaking at next week’s Festival of Marketing on the possibilities that smart homes, connected devices and AI present for marketers.
We caught up with her ahead of the Festival to talk about what she does, and what she predicts for the future of smart homes and IoT.
Econsultancy: As Marketing Director of Samsung’s newly-created Home division, what kinds of things fall under your remit?
Rebecca Hirst: I am responsible for all marketing activity for products and services that we use every day in our homes – think market-leading TVs, washing machines and fridges.
I’m passionate about technology and how things like artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things will positively impact people’s lives. I am also on a personal mission to bring more diversity into technology teams.
E: Are we entering the “era of the smart home”, or is it already upon us?
RH: The smart home is already here – but we are really just at the start of an exciting journey to bring it to life for people in tangible ways.
Samsung is working to be at the forefront of innovation in the smart home, using our expertise in open technology to help drive the market forward. But it’s not enough to simply push the boundaries of what technology can do.
Technology has to help simplify people’s lives. It’s our role to create the products and services that make people’s lives easier and more fun. We believe our technology ecosystem will be an enabler for that.
Is the era of the smart home already upon us?
E: How do you see connected homes and the Internet of Things developing over the next five years?
RH: It’s so hard to predict – the rate of technological development is so fast and our investment in R&D is making sure that rate of development doesn’t stop. Last year alone we invested $14 billion in research and development.
So predicting what things will be like in five years is tricky. But some of the things we have released already are so exciting it feels like it could be technology of the future!
This year at CES 2018 we debuted the next generation of Family Hub, a smart fridge freezer – the latest version has a personalised meal planner which provides recipes based on your family’s food preferences.
We have an AI-powered washing machine that can suggest the best cycle based on washing items and your lifestyle. Or how about a QLED TV that upscales picture and audio by itself to provide the best picture and sound quality, and automatically detects and connects with devices around it?
All of these innovations are based around understanding consumers, what is important to them, and how technology can provide experiences that enhance their lifestyles.
E: What excites you most about the potential of smart homes from a marketing perspective?
RH: It is such an incredible opportunity to be working at the cutting edge of technology and helping explain how this type of technology will make a genuine difference and isn’t a gimmick or scary.
As a marketer, the challenge is an absorbing one and really brings things back to basics – understanding consumers and explaining things in ways that are simple and meaningful.
E: What are the biggest ways in which the Internet of Things will impact our lives – positively and negatively?
The technology is already here, and most people are probably already using it in some way or other without even knowing it.
Whether it’s AI in your phone camera, or your smart speaker voice assistant – all of these things are constantly improving and learning, and will undoubtedly become a core part of daily life.
Don’t miss Rebecca speaking at the Festival of Marketing 2018, October 10-11 in London. Headliners include Sir Martin Sorrell, Louis Theroux and Carolyn McCall.