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With The Internet Of Things, 'The Jetsons Lifestyle Is Upon Us'


There's also a fast-growing startup culture focused on the Internet of things.


ALEX HAWKINSON: Wouldn't it be smart if your bed knew when you got up so that it could turn on the lights, open the shades and start the coffee pot?

CORNISH: That's Alex Hawkinson, founder and CEO of SmartThings, in a video for a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than a million dollars last year. The company has since raised many millions more. Alex Hawkinson joins us now. Welcome to the program.

HAWKINSON: Thanks for having me.

CORNISH: So I understand that you're constantly testing things out in your own house and, you know, we just heard in the commercial there about the light and the coffee pot, but what are three automatic tasks that wouldn't have been possible a few years ago that you're now able to use in your home because of Internet connected technology?

HAWKINSON: Sure, three good examples - I mean, one is very like that Kickstarter video. So my house, I wear a fitness bracelet that has been integrated by a company called Jawbone into our platform so the house actually knows when I physically am waking up and does things like turn on the coffee pot. It actually turns on NPR in the kitchen and reads me the weather forecast when I walk into the kitchen for the first time.

CORNISH: Really. (Laughing)

HAWKINSON: Yeah, it's - the Jetson lifestyle is upon us.

CORNISH: The Internet of things strikes some people as something tech companies are doing because they can, right, the data's there, the equipment is there, the connectivity is there. Is this a case where you're essentially creating a marketplace for something we didn't even know we needed?

HAWKINSON: I don't think so. I think a lot of the benefits are really practical and very profound for almost anyone. So the consumer may be very interested in knowing, let's say, whether their front door was opened while they were away from home, but they may not be aware that there's such a simple answer to enable them to tell that, at this point. So it's a discontinuity between not the value that it creates, but really just the awareness that the options are already so readily available.

CORNISH: What's the weirdest connected device in your house?

HAWKINSON: You know, we have a stage in our basement, which sounds crazy, but a stage with like, a disco ball and a costume room and stuff. And so when my daughter leaps up on it specifically, like, the music and lighting and disco ball starts going in the right way. There's a few other things, there's like romance mode. You know, the house knows when it's a Friday or Saturday night and the kids are asleep, that sort of stuff. So I won't say that's weird but it's...

CORNISH: No, a little. What does that do then? Like, the lights go down?

HAWKINSON: I don't know, it's never worked for me, in terms of the real goal, but, you know, the lights dim and the Barry White comes on the Sonos, mostly as a joke, that type of stuff. And of course puts on the classical music and brings up the lights if there's motion outside the kids' bedrooms.

CORNISH: And that is technology that's useful, my friend.


CORNISH: Alex Hawkinson, he's founder and CEO of SmartThings. Thank you so much for speaking with us.

HAWKINSON: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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