Ikea's Slow and Steady Plan to Save the Smart Home

WIRED | 2/3/2019 | Brian Barrett
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A year and a half ago, Ikea became a smart home company, introducing a line of connected light bulbs to complement its lingonberries. This spring, it adds its second product category to its Home Smart lineup: a set of smart blinds, called Fyrtur, that open and close with the tap of a wireless remote or a voice command. Blinds might seem an odd choice to build on Ikea’s IoT momentum. In fact, there’s no better sign that the company has a better grip on the smart home than just about anybody.

Stories about the smart home tend to focus on the negative, and for good enough reason; how many other household items can be hacked by pranksters threatening nuclear war? But the problems associated with many connected devices belie that they can, in many instances, be genuinely useful. Take Ikea’s Trådfri LEDs, which focus on affordability and ease of use over flash. Or likewise its smart blinds, which exist explicitly to solve more problems than they create.

Years - Ikea - Blinds - Strings - Cords

For years, Ikea has made blinds without strings or cords. This is for safety reasons; cordless became the industry standard in 2018 to minimize the risk of children getting tangled in them.

Expect to see Ikea build out its smart home offerings selectively, and at a deliberate pace.

Course - Applications - Blinds - Hands - Björn

“But of course you have applications where you can’t reach the blinds, because it’s too far up to grab it with your hands,” says Björn Block, who leads Ikea’s Home Smart division. “So merging that with the wireless technology that we’d already developed not only served a purpose from the smart home perspective, but also really made sense for the blinds category in terms of taking the next step in having the most convenient solution for the window.”

The Fyrtur blinds will be available in the US on April 1....
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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