Innovation

What you need to know when building for the Internet of Things

Matt Rogers, the founder of Nest labs, presented at the 2014 DEMO conference on designing for the Internet of Things. Here's what you need to know about the future of IoT.

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Image: iStockphoto/Andrew Ostrovsky

The Internet of Things is exploding, but it can be difficult to navigate the process of building a competitive product that can make a real impact in the space.

Nest co-founder Matt Rogers presented his thoughts on what to know when designing products for the Internet of Things (IoT) space at the 2014 DEMO conference.

When asked about what Nest considered in the early days, Rogers said that the company set out to merely build a great thermostat. The company looked at research that explained the massive energy consumption that comes from heating and cooling, and they set out to solve the problem that is raised by that consumption.

Nest has gone on to launch other products and purchase companies, such as Dropcam, to fill out its portfolio of smart home offerings. However, Rogers doesn't see Nest as the company that will build every smart home product that consumers will eventually need.

When designing IoT products, Rogers had a simple idea that he follows: "Users shouldn't have to worry about it." That concept is a reference to the idea that users shouldn't need an additional control hub to operate or manage a product.

Moving toward the future of the connected home and IoT, Rogers said that the goal should be to get the connected home to take care of the user without the user taking care of the connected home. Because of this, Rogers believes that remote control is the wrong way to go.

"When we think about the connected home, we actually don't think about scenarios," Rogers said.

Instead, he said, Nest thinks about everyday life — examining the minor tasks and operations and how those can be made easier with its products.

As far as revenue models go, Nest only charges a one-time fee for its product. Rogers noted, though, that he believes one-time fees are not any better than subscription model, but they are different. The main thing to consider is how much value your company is adding over the long haul and how your business runs.

In addition to the conversation around building out an IoT product, the DEMO conference saw the launch of some unique new IoT startups as well.

Yonomi, a free mobile app that runs in the background to connect your IoT devices and create routines for the devices to work together. For example, when you get home it can have your smart lights turn on and your thermostat lower the temperature.

Measurence is an intelligence platform for retailers. The company tracks location data on cell phones to analyze visitor behavior inside the store. Stores can learn if displays are attracting new shoppers and if shoppers are returning customers or are there for the first time.

Seed is a B2B software company that is working to make everyday products into smart products. The company produces the Seed module board that can connect to an external MCU.

Bluvision didn't launch at DEMO, but it did release its BluFi Bluetooth-to-WiFi Sensor product. It allows data captured over Bluetooth to be transmitted to the cloud.

Iotera produces a small GPS tracker called the Iota. Users set up a home base that has a range of 1-4 miles to track the Iotas, which run for 4 months on a single battery charge.

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About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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