Lower prices, openness will bring internet of things to the masses

We hear a lot about the connected home. Well-heeled people in tech enclaves like Silicon Valley have already bought into the notion of controlling their lights, music, video and home security with their phone, computer or other device of choice. Everything’s connected and everything’s controlled.

But what will push true, cool internet of things adoption into the mainstream? Affordability and ease of adoption. Mere mortals have to be able to set up and control these things the way they want.

Face it, not a lot of middle-class folks will pay $200 for three connectable Philips Hue lightbulbs. Price will come down, George Yianni, head of technology for Philips’ Connected Lighting group, said at GigaOM’s Mobilize event Thursday morning. The availability of more targeted solutions as opposed to components will also help, he said.

Additionally, there are now APIs to help people connect stuff together in the ways that are most useful to them.

One example was a Hackathon participant who linked his Hue lightbulb to the live information feed of London’s transport system. The bulb was green if he had time to make another cup of tea, yellow if he better be careful and red if he needed to bolt that instant to catch his bus, said Kevin Toms, Hue developer program architect for Philips.

One trend that could boost adoption of technologies like connectable lightbulbs is better and more ubiquitous wireless connectivity.

“If you wanted to do this in the past,  someone had to come into your house and rip open walls. Now you can configure each lamp without that,” said Toms. “The technology hides a lot of complexity so you can now associate certain buttons with certain things.”

And, as has happened in other realms, once something is popular in personal use, it will find its way into the office.

Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT (the company name stands for If This Then That), said he’s found the killer app for the Philips product. “We use Hue lights to indicate bathroom availability. It’s been a game changer — 18 people, one bathroom.”

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page