Amazon Wants Your Smart Home to Know What You Need Before You Do

By Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan on at

Despite having almost a quarter of a billion active users, Amazon is struggling to find a footing for its hardware in peoples' homes. A new report from Reuters details how Jeff Bezos plans to change that by doubling down on hardware.

Google has Nest. Apple has HomeKit. Amazon's path into the connected home is less clear. But according to Reuters, over the next five years the company — whose stock fell almost a quarter this year — plans to boost its staff by 27 per cent and invest $55 million in its "secretive Silicon Valley-based hardware unit", Lab 126, which developed the Fire phone and several eReaders.

The lab's work will also focus on devices in the home space, including that mythical button that you'll be able to tap to order more toilet paper or soap. It seems that Bezos's idea of the connected home isn't necessarily all about making a space "smarter" or more efficient from a environmental perspective. No, it's all about your home knowing when it's time to order more products from Amazon before you do, Reuters explains:

With Lab126's experiments, Amazon envisions homes decked out with internet-connected sensors that would allow it to tell customers ahead of time when they need to replace air conditioner filters or service their washing machines, one of the sources said. "If I walk into my laundry room and there's a big pool of water and the floor needs to be replaced, I'd love to know about it two weeks before it happens," said Ryo Koyama, CEO of Weaved, a startup working on connected-home technology.

As cynical as it sounds, it's the more realistic vision of the connected home. As Apple, for example, is still figuring out exactly what HomeKit does, Amazon already has a very specific vision — and business model — it's betting on. [Reuters]