As Dorothy famously said in the Wizard of Oz: "There’s no place like home." Home is where we all feel safe and can truly be ourselves, but what if emergent trends and technologies are primed to change all of that?
As we embark on the fourth industrial revolution, three technologies – IOT, AI and 5G – have the power to make home less of a physical building and more of a fluid experience, allowing us to control and shape the environment around us directly via these technologies. They will change the way we live, work, shop and entertain ourselves.
They’ll also change how we think about our home or place of work. Buildings will become spaces that can be used fluidly for different purposes – whether it’s a home, car, office or private club. While things or physical objects will play a role, they will mostly be enhanced by services that are connected to the overall consumer experience as they move from location to location.
Here are four ways home, as we know it, will change in the future:
Home as a Wellness Platform
The next generation of wellness will be about connecting all of our devices – whether it’s our Peloton, thermostats, Fitbits, etc – to work in unison to create a seamless wellness experience that nudges you with the right behaviors to optimize your health and wellness. Major players like Google, Apple, Amazon and Samsung are making significant investments in this space and insurance companies and hospitals are likely to follow suit, meaning the hospital bed of the future will not be in a hospital but instead be your own bed.
Home as a Play Platform
Home has become a play and entertainment platform for adults and kids alike through the rise of Mixed Reality technologies such as AR & VR, as they truly enhance physical and sensory perception of the real world by integrating it with virtual data. Mixed Realities are changing the way people interact with objects and toys and helping to keep the experience fresh. The biggest impact, however, will be on the the need for physical screens in the home.
Mixed Reality technologies are already being used in interior design and I see this expanding as people move to a world where their family or living room is not organized around a screen but instead optimized for virtual experiences – becoming the canvas for multiple entertainment, play, learning and work experiences.
Home as a Work Platform
Remote working has become standard for at least 50% of the US working population and it’s helping bridge the gender pay gap by providing working mothers and fathers with much greater flexibility. Over the next few years, Gen Z will start work and become over a 3rd of the global workforce – true digital natives who will expect to be able to integrate technology seamlessly across their work and personal lives. There will be less need for some of the norms of the corporate world – face-to-face meetings, presenteeism, fixed office spaces - and we’ll see a rise of nomadic workers who want to combine varied careers with global exploration.
Home as a Commerce Platform
Commerce is already present in the home as our front doors and apartment lobbies have become like sorting houses or delivery centers with an endless stream of boxes. Amazon has changed the way we order through our homes with a number of Alexa-enabled devices and their new Key offering provides access to your home to deliver packages.
Google, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft also increasingly putting more Voice AI into objects in the home and we’ll continue to see Voice integration across everyday interfaces like TVs, fridges, bathroom mirrors and wardrobes. The next shift, however, will be beyond the buy side, where we’ll also see our ability to supply goods and services from our home.
Airbnb, Peer-to-Peer Solar Power Sharing, and community farming projects are just a few examples that exist today. In the future, entire communities will be built with energy consumption, food production and more efficient resource sharing and our homes will become micro-economies within themselves. Not just the consumer of products and services but also the producers. And not just the passive recipients of goods and services but instead making smart decisions about what the home needs, from whom and at what price.
The home of the future will become a marketing fortress. How brands market to a home will become more determined by what infrastructure the home has to build these services on top off. Brands who win will have brokered a new deal with consumers around marketing and what the marketer receives in return – trading data, access and levels of privacy for better deals, bespoke products and services or earlier releases.
In doing this, many consumers will move from being passive recipients of marketing to active participants in a new deal with brands. Some consumers will switch from ‘don’t track me" to "track me for these activities…for money."
We will also see a shift from Direct to Consumer to Direct to Home models. The home of the future will be one that orders goods and services for itself without the intervention of people, giving rise to entirely new experiential models such as in-home sampling and pop-up community-based micro-malls to bring new products and services to people.
However, the biggest shift will be in the marketing model overall. Marketing must shift from being a frequently unwanted intrusion in the home to a service to consumers and the home itself. Brands that can make this shift will successfully win the home of the future and, like Dorothy, find their way back to Kansas.
Richard Hartell is chief strategy officer at Publicis Media.