Smart products – Why (now)?
In recent years, the term “smart products” has become a popular concept. This is due to the following issues:
Manufacturers are looking for added value for their products
It’s more and more difficult for manufacturers to compete/distinguish themselves by reducing cost. Production costs are generally very low due to the high level of competition and the production cost in low-paid countries are hardly beatable. Either way, you have a unique product that does not already exist on the market, or you make sure your product has added value because a product is more intelligent than that of the competitors. The fact that the consumer has gained more power through all comparison sites and social also makes that manufacturers need to listen closely to the demands of users and respect the appreciation of the products of competitors.
In addition, there is another point why manufacturers want to develop smart products: information. Data, highly detailed and specific per individual user about when, how and how often a product or some product features are used. This data can be used to improve products, detect problems, and possibly repair them by distance. The data is also interesting for marketing reasons of course. If you know what a customer likes, please use it, then you can apply the needed features on newer version of the product or integrate it into other devices.
The user experience (UX) of a product plays a major role
Customizing has become very important. Users want their products to fit to their to their daily experience. They expect more and more that a product adapts itself to the different needs at different times in different contexts. This is can be achieved, on the one hand, when a product offers the functionalities that the user requests at the moment. In this case, users can choose the functionalities he needs out of all the functionalities the product can really offer. On the other hand, the product becomes even more interesting when it suggest some functionalities to the computer without being commanded for that. Then the product thinks for you and acts to your needs. This kind of behaviour also increases the user’s bond with the product.
Technological progression makes smart products possible now. Electronics has become more efficient, smaller and cheaper. In addition, data storage, whether in The Cloud or not, has become cheaper. As a result, designers are more likely to use it as well. A display, operation, product support, and of course the mechanical features of the product. These elements benefit from advanced electronics. Now that these electronics can be integrated more and more easily, intelligence can be offered faster.