I ran across a really interesting company creating products for the home automation market. Sen.se seems to be re-purposing innovative themes from other areas of technology to the home automation market.
Software Reigns Supreme
It is common to see products move functionality that previously existed in hardware, to software. As an example, think of your garage door opener. Your garage door opener has only ever done two things; open and close. You will never do anything else with it; how boring. Now think of your smart phone. When you purchased that phone, I doubt anyone knew that you would use it to tweet, arm your alarm system, take a ‘duck face selfie’, open your garage door, and, oh yeah, make a phone call. The modern smart phone can do all that because it is a general-purpose piece of hardware that is infinitely customizable via software; aka ‘apps’.
BYOS - Bring Your Own… Software?
A second complimentary trend is towards empowering anyone to customize products. In the past, companies did all they could to lock-down their products to make sure only they could make changes. Companies feared not being able to monetize their own products. But now with so many more possibilities for customization via software, companies have finally realized that it is impossible to hire enough engineers to do this on their own.
Smart companies now create products that are open and customizable by anyone. These companies focus their engineers on building tools to make it as easy as possible for anyone to customize their products. What would your smart phone be like if only Apple could make apps? I am pretty sure that there would be only one app to connect your bank account to Apple so that you can buy overpriced computers, videos and music. Oh and maybe a Tetris app, but that’s it. No ‘duck faced selfies’ for you.
Now back to Sen.se and how they have capitalized on these trends. Instead of creating a myriad of special-purpose sensors, they’ve created one sensor that can do it all. You don’t buy a motion sensor and a temperature sensor from Sen.se. You buy a single ‘Motion Cookie’ that can do it all. This device then adapts (via software) to the way in which it is currently being used. Sen.se has also created Open.Sen.se which is a platform to allow anyone to customize their devices. This is only in Beta currently, but I cannot wait to see what happens once this gains momentum.
I only hope that the industry as a whole will see the power of these two trends and follow suit. At the same time perhaps Sen.se will figure out where periods are appropriate and where they are not. The name “Open.Sen.se” just makes my grammar-bone hurt.