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[SIdO2016] Connected objects : heading for use value and user experience

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The watchwords of these two days spent at SIdO 2016 – Internet of Things Showroom – were use value and simplicity!

At the plenary “The IoT, new Internet bubble or economic reality? ” Olivier Ezratty, a known expert in innovation strategies, came to challenge Rafi Haladjian, pioneer in the Internet of Things, on its company Sen.se and his methods to make his products adopted by consumers.

Price remains a major barrier to mass market but not only…

In the early days of the Internet, everyone was talking about it but nobody had connexion at home. The IoT must deal with this same period of effervescence: everyone is interested in but only few are really using connected objects in their daily life, purchased on their own. The Internet of Things is not yet an economic reality but only an ” economy of Christmas gifts ” in the words of Rafi Haladjian. Faced with this situation, this entrepreneur ask himself every day these questions ” How can we reach a mass market situation for connected objects? How do we create connected experiences? “.

Price issue of these objects remains crucial. At the premises of mobile Internet Apple with its iPhone, even before the democratization of applications, has mostly invented the mobile plan at that time when sending an email via our mobile phone was more expensive than a stamp. Apple has managed to impose on operators painless package for consumers. As explained Rafi Haladjian, ” All these things that now seem very helpful would be no longer if they cost more than € 9 each megabyte. ” It is true that we can do without when we travel abroad and we have no longer our unlimited plan. However, price is not the only obstacle to purchase a connected object. The investment in a connected object would seem more profitable and reasonable for consumer if the product benefit was most obvious. Bringing sense to consumers becomes an emergency.

Big Data + Machine Learning = the winning combination to get a real use value?

« Is the business outside or inside the object itself? »

Probably outside according to speakers, but where exactly? We do not know yet. Olivier Ezratty ask rightly this question. Many bet that the value will be created outside the object through the service and the platforms that will be associated with it.

In this quest for use value, Rafi Haladjian says that Big Data on his own is not the expected black gold. It is by associating it with machine learning algorithms that we will give meaning to data and get real learning.

An appropriation process in three stages

According to Rafi Haladjian, the user experience is composed of three stages when a person starts using a connected object:

  • A first phase of revelation : similar to a fascinating period within the user discovers the object which was seen previously as a black box.
  • The crossing of the desert: after adjusting his behavior, user arrives at a plateau that does not allow him to improve or learn new things. All needed efforts to adapt, to change habits, maintenance of the connected object … are absolutely not profitable in comparison to perceived benefits.
  • Phase of knowledge and intelligence: after 8 to 10 months of use, the connected object starts again to be interesting because the user has collected enough data for real learning.

It’s between the first and the third phase that the user is likely to abandon its object because he is in the “Desert of data” as Rafi Haladjian calls it. The brake of the Internet of Things would be the user himself so?

To get around this obstacle, Sen.se’s approach is not to collect data anymore but to collect experiences. Today Sen.se moves on the next stage with its new product: the peanuts. Many elements of their previous product, Mother, were removed to achieve something extremely simple. The aim is that these small sensors just melt directly into natural experiments already known by people such as: taking a medicine, opening a door, taking temperature … This method allows them not only saving motivational efforts of people but also learning efforts to use the device. The peanuts are like an ” invisible data vacuum “. They have a range of one year or lifetime being the necessary time to collect enough data to realize the usefulness of these sensors.

« Do you know the Google’s test brush teeth? »

Before investing millions in the acquisition of a new company, Larry Page, the CEO of Google, see if it passes the test of the toothbrush by responding positively to this question: « Is this something you’ll use once or twice a day, and will it make your life better? » Thus they consider that an investment is justified only if the service and / or company product is used daily or even several times a day.

Olivier Ezratty asked if it would not be possible to balance Rafi Haladjian’s proposal value with the one proposed by Google? Could not we reduce the necessary time of use to obtain relevant results? Ideally, the user should perceive the use value from the first usage.

The “kitten effect”: do not underestimate the effect of “futile” !

When the speakers talk about “kitten effect”, they are referring to kittens videos that are part of the most watched videos on Youtube. The character “cute”, “fun” and “fashion” of an object are in fact far from being underestimated variable.

As highlighted Rafi Haladjian, Fitbit watches, mainly dedicated to fitness, started to invade college courses because this model of connected watches represent and give a status to junior high school student : a “cool attitude” and “fashionable”. We refer here to the representation of the social self, on how the individual would like to be perceived.

User emotional commitment: a missing key variable

Olivier Ezratty underlines that the ability of connected objects to create emotional value is missing badly. Adding connectivity within these objects should lend itself yet, particularly through the creation of new human networks. The emotional value is certainly one of the keys to the appropriation of these objects. Manufacturers should therefore take this dimension into account in the design of their connected devices.

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