John Lewis – as everyone in the UK knows – is a chain of upmarket department stores. The company is well established and respected, with customers who are perhaps on the more financially secure, conservative and traditional end of the socio-economic spectrum. The store also has a number of fans from outside the UK. While not the first stop for all shoppers, John Lewis is seen by its many admirers as a fundamentally “British” middle class institution, a key part of the fabric of the UK retail ecosystem which also operates in-store, over the phone and online.

John Lewis have this month taken the arguably brave and visionary move of opening a new department dedicated entirely to the Smart Home, and located it on the 5th floor of their flagship London store on Oxford Street. This store is visited daily by tens of thousands of people not only from the UK, but from all over the world. So we decided to take the train down there today to see for ourselves how a prestigious retail brand is diving straight in to the exciting and potentially overwhelming world of smart home tech.

Clearly they are sending a signal to their consumers old and not so old, that technology need not be daunting.

It’s as though John Lewis is saying: Creating your smart home is simple: we are here to help you figure out how to buy and use smart technology in your home – it will ultimately save you time and money, and it can be fun, too. We will provide inspiration, demonstrations and advice. Let your imagination run wild: the trusted folk from whom you might buy the more basic essentials of home life, such as flooring, curtains and furniture, can now be relied upon in the same way to advise you on The Internet of Things.

The smart home has landed in middle Britain.

John Lewis’ connected hub of appliances, devices and displays covers a range of smart home product brands, in all categories: heating, lighting, home monitoring (safety and security), entertainment, smart appliances and wearable tech. “Must haves” include the inevitable mobiles and tablets. These products are shown in their “natural habitat” so to speak, with real life “use cases” themed by room: the bedroom, kitchen, lounge (which is roughly equivalent to a living room or “den” in the States), front door and garden. All you need is a good broadband connection to get started…

It might be said that the British dwell in some of the smallest living spaces in Europe, so their potential appetite for Smart Home products could prove to be exceedingly large. Like their Far Eastern counterparts, the British want to maximise their use of limited space – and an intelligent, connected home is one way of achieving a better quality of life without adding an extension or buying a holiday home. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that the UK has the fifth largest number of smart homes in the world, after the US, Japan, Germany and China, and is expected to grow eight-fold by 2020 (Source: Statistica Market Report).

John Lewis has said they will evolve their offering in response to customer interaction and feedback. We welcome and applaud their investment in consumer market research and education, and we look forward to the roll-out of this innovative concept in their other stores.

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About Audio Analytic

Audio Analytic is the pioneer of AI sound recognition software. The company is on a mission to map the world of sounds, offering our sense of hearing to consumer technology. By transferring our sense of hearing to consumer products and digital personal assistants we give them the ability to react to the world around us, helping satisfy our entertainment, safety, security, wellbeing and communication needs.

Audio Analytic’s ai3™ sound recognition software enables device manufacturers and chip companies to equip products with Artificial Audio Intelligence, recognizing and automatically responding to our growing list of sound profiles.

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