Axios What's Next
September 13, 2021
What if your stove could tell when you'd left it on by mistake, and your living room lights turned on automatically just before you got home? Makers of smart home devices say that 2022 will be a breakthrough year, as Jennifer A. Kingson writes today.
- Today's What's Next photo contest winner is Olugbenga (Gbenga) Ajilore, whose pictures (along with links to his fantastic video tweets) appear at the bottom.
- Let's feature your photo next! Please submit a cool shot of What's Next in our lives to [email protected].
Today's Smart Brevity count: 1,156 words ... 4.5 minutes.
1 big thing: A huge jump in smart home technology
Starting next year, consumers will be able to buy smart home devices — like thermostats, lighting systems and kitchen appliances — that can talk to one another through a new connectivity standard called Matter, Jennifer A. Kingson writes.
Why it matters: Interoperability of home devices has long been a distant dream, but big boys like Amazon, Google and Apple have coalesced around Matter, hoping it will become a common brand name governing the Internet of Things (IoT).
How it works: Sometime in 2022, companies will start selling Matter-branded products that will (ideally) work together seamlessly and securely — integrating everything from Siri and Alexa to your TV controls, home alarm system and even your pet-tracking device.
- A likely scenario is that a customer will buy a base unit as a hub for all Matter-connected devices, then control everything through a single app.
- More than 200 companies have signed up to support Matter, which is overseen by a group called the Connectivity Standards Alliance.
😎 The cool part: Once you start adding devices to your Matter system, the system will start to recognize patterns, and "ambient computing" will kick in, enabling your stuff to make predictions and suggest ways to make your life easier:
- Lighting that turns on while you're driving home: The lights in your driveway and living room will know that you usually get home at 6:30 — in part because they work with your smart door locks — and ask if you want them turned on automatically before you arrive.
- More 411 from your household security system: "A customer is away from their home, their smoke detector goes off, and they’re able to see whether their pet is inside or outside the home," says Don Young, executive vice president and COO at ADT, the home security company.
- Sensors in your plumbing can detect leaks or other problems: "Anomalies to normal behavior — like consistent [water] flow between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. when the owner is usually away from home — trigger an installed automatic shutoff valve to close," Young says.
- The forgotten hot stovetop: Smart plugs and appliances, smoke and temperature detectors, etc., will all communicate. "The predictive protection aspect says: a stove is on, no one is home, no human movement detected in the house — let’s turn off that stove for the customer automatically," Young says.
Yes, but: This halcyon vision has long been an industry pipe dream, and who knows if it will come true — even this time.
- The Connectivity Standards Alliance, or CSA, was known until May as the Zigbee Alliance, a longtime initiative to develop open, global standards for wireless technology. (And Matter — which had previously been scheduled for launch in 2020 and 2021 — was previously known as CHIP, or Project Connected Home over IP.)
- Most consumers haven't caught IoT fever yet. "New research from Parks Associates indicates that just 36% of US broadband households have one smart home device, a percentage that decreases if all households are tallied," CNET reports.
- "Among those with smart home technology, most have only a few devices, not the utopian array that was foreshadowed by Microsoft and Bill Gates nearly two decades ago."
2. Your phone is your ticket
The benefits of digital tickets for fans range from convenience to security. For leagues, it comes down to one thing: data, Axios Sports editor Kendall Baker reports.
- 98% of NFL fans used mobile tickets during preseason games this summer, according to the league. That's up from 67% in 2019.
Thanks in part to ticket data, the NFL now has 120 million names in its centralized customer database, Sports Business Journal's Ben Fischer reports (subscription).
3. "I don't want to go back to the office because..."
Yes, we're all scared of the Delta variant, but the more visceral reasons that people want to keep working from home are striking, a poll found:
- 75% want to hang out with their pets.
- 73% want to watch TV while they work.
- 72% want to nap or exercise during the day.
- 62% are self-conscious about how they look.
Why it matters: The longer we stay out of the office, the more these personal priorities become ingrained — making return-to-the-office even more of a distant (and distasteful) possibility, Jennifer writes.
Details: The results come from a Pollfish survey of 1,000 people conducted in July for Digital.com (a procurement website for small businesses).
- When asked why they wanted to continue to WFH, most people gave predictable answers as their top reason — child care or commuting issues, as listed in the chart above.
- But most respondents listed other lifestyle factors as part of their consideration.
What they're saying: "The real reason I want to work from home is because I get ownership of my day: I don’t have to dress up for work, worry about my appearance or smile and make small talk when I feel like trash," said Naida Allen, a content writer at Tutor House, according to Digital.com.
- “There’s no one breathing down my neck, watching my every move and analyzing whether I’m 'working hard enough.'"
The bottom line: 14% of survey respondents said that "working remotely was so important to them they would not go back to work in-person even if their employers required it, instead giving up their positions to presumably find other remote opportunities."
4. What we're reading
Everything you need to know about pumpkin spice marketing (AdAge — subscription)
- Pumpkin spice flavoring — a September staple — is a $500-million-a-year business that traces its roots to 2003, when Starbucks introduced the notorious PSL, or Pumpkin Spice Latte.
- "Just how did that humble spice mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger become the fall flavor, dominating seasonal menus across American restaurants?" AdAge asks.
U.S. Ports See Shipping Logjams Likely Extending Far Into 2022 (WSJ)
- We've all heard about the surfeit of container ships and dearth of berths for them at busy ports like the ones in Southern California — and now come shipping experts to say that the problem won't let up until mid-2022 at the very earliest.
Vaccine Resisters Seek Religious Exemptions. But What Counts as Religious? (NYT)
- While major religious institutions and authorities have lined up in support of COVID-19 vaccines, Americans resisting their employers' vaccine mandates are still turning to their faith to try to get off the hook.
5. Reader photos of the day
What's Next: The persistence of pandemic hobbies
Olugbenga (Gbenga) Ajilore writes: "During the pandemic, I started playing the bassoon after not having played it since high school. I added the clarinet about a month ago and play duets with myself.
"Over the pandemic, I have been posting videos of me playing on social media. I’ve done 124 songs since the start of the pandemic.
"While I’ve slowly started going back to the office, the instruments are there for me when I need a break or just to get my mind off of things."
Jennifer's note: I highly recommend clicking the links to his videos — the songs he plays will surprise and delight.
Please be on the lookout for photos that speak to What's Next in our lives! Send them to [email protected].
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