Connecting the Smart Dots

Smart cars are coming

In my previous two posts, I talked about smartphones and wearables. But let’s not forget some other trends that are getting a lot of attention - the Smart Home and the Connected Car.

Wherever I go, I have a few electronic devices with me, including my smartphone, tablet, and wearable.  All this mobile technology is designed to make our lives easier but what about our various domestic appliances and gadgets? While everyone I know wants a smart home, what does that really mean? Is it enough to simply turn on the lights or heating from your smartphone?

First, though, we need to understand what we want to be able to control.

Technology chicken or egg. Sometimes we don’t know what we want because we can’t even imagine the capability. In some sense, this is where the industry is now – experimenting. It’s really not that different from netbooks before tablets came along. It’s just part of natural cycle of innovation. And with the smart home, it’s only at the beginning phase.

Figuring out people’s wants might therefore be harder than the actual technical challenges.  However, it’s only by solving potential issues, will we find out how important this technology is. We shall then see whether the giant potential so many experts have predicted will finally be realized.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

Any technology – especially something that really changes the way people live – has to be simple to use. The user interface for smart home technology must be extremely easy to understand. Yet, current methods of device interaction are far too complex. A master smart device must be tapped to control all the other subservient smart devices with one password.

Once again, we are seeding the market to understand what works and why. We’re starting with our Lenovo Hub Initiative – a unified connection to a wide variety of devices including home appliances, via different kinds of communications protocols, such as WiFi, Bluetooth, and ZigBee.

The Hub provides a single app control interface for doors, lights, air conditioning, etc. Based on usage data and analysis, it gives you intelligent insight, including servicing recommendations– highlighting problems before they become emergencies. After all, no one wants to come home from a vacation to find a leaking water pipe. This technology can alert you to these potential problems

Cloud – Driving the Connected Car

Turning to the connected car, let’s look at what enabled the automobile to enter the digital age in the first place – the cloud.

We now have smart cars that are constantly monitoring their system information from sensors over WiFi or 4G, which is then stored in the cloud. They can then alert their drivers when a service is needed.

Wearable technology can play a part here too. For instance, imagine having your car notify its location to your watch when you’ve forgotten where it’s parked?

Or perhaps it will be the smartphone that drives the car’s data and maybe, someday, even the car itself? Then, the smart car could become an extension of your phone? The possibilities are endless.

Going forward, however, it’s going to be critical for the industry to create open interoperability standards for manufacturers.  As devices like wearables and smartphones will need to discover and utilize each other to realize the potential of the connected car experience.

For me, it’s fascinating to track the development of technologies that keep advancing each other further and further. They’ll fundamentally change the way we live our lives. And at Lenovo, we fully intend to participate in all of these areas.

Keep a look out for more at Lenovo Tech World in Beijing on May 28th when we'll be demonstrating some of our latest ideas.