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Apple launches smart home demos at its retail stores

Apple’s HomeKit is a growing platform of interlinked household devices that communicate with each other over the Internet. Tech leaders are pitching the Internet of Things and the connected home revolution as the next frontier of technology. To date, adoption has been sluggish with most home owners reluctant to embrace the hyped “smart” future.
Power of the home
Apple’s now trying a new initiative to increase awareness of the smart home. Conscious that most people have never tried an Internet-linked thermostat, fridge or ceiling fan, the company is rolling out interactive in-store demo areas. TechCrunch reports that the experiences are available in 46 of Apple’s retail stores worldwide.
The plan is to increase adoption of HomeKit by educating prospective customers on its benefits. As people come to accept the ecosystem, growth should occur organically. You’re more likely to buy a product if you’ve seen it in action at a friend’s house. Apple hopes the same principle to apply to its retail stores.
Smart homes are still a rarity outside of tech. Early manufacturers of smart devices are meeting their first customers and the overarching ecosystem isn’t yet established. Until a significant proportion of the population has bought into the idea, normal social-driven growth tactics won’t be effective.
The Internet of Things, offline
The initiative is also indicative of the continued value of brick-and-mortar retail stores. Apple has failed to sell people on the smart home idea using webpages alone. The launch of the new demo spaces affirms the importance of physical locations in the retail industry. In this instance, people want to be able to relate to how the products work. This can’t be conveyed using the Internet alone.

Apple HomePod

Apple HomePod

“Launching a smart home experience in Apple Stores exemplifies why brick and mortar stores are still relevant and how technology plays an important role,” said Michael Levine, Vice President of Marketing at Photon, provider of digital services to Fortune 500 companies. “For an immersive product such as Apple Home Kit, customers need to physically experience how it effects the home environment to understand the value. This is not possible in a setting outside of the physical store.”
Apple’s recently-announced HomePod smart speaker will form the centrepiece of its near-term smart home strategy. The speaker’s integrated voice command capabilities through digital assistant Siri will let you control other devices, such as your connected lights, blinds and kitchen equipment.
READ NEXT: Apple unveils HomePod, its Siri-powered smart speaker
The experience of using the system as a whole can’t really be expressed in writing, a challenge Apple’s only just coming to realise. The floor space commitment in Apple Stores shows that the Internet of Things won’t catch on unless it’s grounded in real-world environments.

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