Episode 18: Why Target chose clear furniture for its smart home concept store

Forget about connecting your smart home, can you imagine the technical challenge of connecting a rhinoceros to the internet? That’s what a new anti-poaching organization called Protect has done with its effort to connect rhinos in South Africa to the internet as part of an anti-poaching effort. Kevin and I discuss the project on this week’s show, as well as the challenges of living with new products that try to train algorithms to help make life easier. So far, their just make you have to interact more with mobile apps.

We also discuss Best Buy’s plan to use the Geek Squad as a network of experts to help homeowners navigate the complexities of the internet of things. Neither Kevin nor I are sure this is the way to save Best Buy, but we’re willing to see if the Geek Squad can become the Apple Genius Bar of the smart home. In other retail news, we snagged David Newman, the man in charge of pulling together Target’s Open House store concept that was launched earlier this month to discuss plans for the space and what he’s learned so far. He also shares why the furniture inside the store is clear. Listen up, and before you go, please note that Kevin and I will be skipping our show next week because we’re taking a quick week-long break in broadcasting. See you next on August 14.

Host: Stacey Higginbotham and Kevin Tofel
Guest: David Newman, Target

  • The internet of wild animals
  • Training smart home devices needs some work
  • Best Buy’s plan for smart home relevance also needs some work
  • Why Target went with clear furniture for its Open Home store
  • Target doesn’t have the connection and API drama that normal people experience

Published by

Stacey Higginbotham

I am a journalist who has covered technology for over a decade at publications such as Fortune, PCMag, Gigaom, The Deal and BusinessWeek.

5 thoughts on “Episode 18: Why Target chose clear furniture for its smart home concept store”

  1. Timed out? ick – something happened while typing comment! 3rd try

    LOVE THE SHOW! (I’m an engi-nerd – so hard not to). I just discovered it a couple of weeks ago and have been devouring podcasts on my commute. Can you please work harder and longer and make more – oops you probably are already by being surrounded by the IoT!

    Anyway, I was discussing my daughter’s laundry situation and how dumping it in the hall isn’t really on (16!). Which brought up the topic of buying a laundry hamper – and we got talking about why a boring laundry hamper, why not something cool. Surely someone has made the iphone of laundry hampers now? I said she could get it to text me when its full – like “Dude do my laundry” and/or escalate – “dude, I got no clean clothes cause you wouldn’t buy them for me so get crackin” – then worst mp3.. “dude, I got not clean clothes, no clean underwear, don’t worry be happy (in a Bobby MacFerin note), I may have to litigate”, etc, etc. Reminders could also be sent to brother – (yeah right, he would be REALLY happy to do her laundry)

    She really liked that idea, and then I thought – I must be crazy – increasing family conflict via IoT. A smart hamper would put these smart gun tottin robots to shame!

    Anyway, you guys should do a “Christmas Wish List” show. Ask readers for there ideas on what IoT they want for Christmas. We need to start having some fun with IoT – its all pretty darned serious with doorbells, security camera, energy, etc. Its going to take a while for this stuff to be really accepted as a benefit – because of all the problems that will plague it, so lets go back to a simpler time when we wrote out Christmas wish lists as kids – and had wonder…
    : )

    Julian Boyle, P.Eng.
    Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
    Electric Utility Manager & IoT dabbler…
    PS Keep up the good work – and don’t work too hard, I was kidding about that part!

    1. That’s an awesome idea Julian. And sorry I didn’t approve your comment in forever. I was really away from my computer for a long time! The laundry hamper you could actually make today with a LittleBits kit in an afternoon. For measuring fullness maybe use the light sensor http://littlebits.cc/bits/light-sensor and a hamper with some holes although when it gets dark, that’s not going to help … maybe a pressure sensor on the lid? Other tools to think about for building this could be getting an open/close sensor and correlating opens and closes with a measure of fullness of the hamper. What a fun problem! Maybe others have an idea?

      1. Thanks Tracy – when I feel geeky (and brave) enough I’ll look up the parts!
        ; )

        PS Just downloaded the last 2 podcasts – I’m actually looking forward to my commute!!

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