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Using Smart Home Devices to Create Data (Step 4)

Posted On - 27/10/2017 08:08:40

Instead of using Smart Home to automate and control things use Smart products and services to collect information and create dataSmart products and services are as useful in business as in the home. Makes sense - offices and workplaces have lights, power and heating. Plus people at work need alerts just the same.

My blogs "Virtually Home" and "Automation" made these very points using business examples as illustrations. In this blog I'll be doing the same. Except instead of automating and controlling things we'll use Smart products and services to collect information and create data.

People counting

Counting footfall is a crucial retail measure. So much so, you could spend £000's on systems to do it. Counting footfall can be sophisticated with systems using stereo vision and heat maps. Why? Because professional retailers know visitor behaviours are fundamental to sales.

Professional retailers know how shopper numbers can gauge marketing effectiveness. They know how the numbers can check sales conversion. And they know how the numbers help plan staffing to meet demand. In retail, counting footfall matters. If you're not counting yours, you're missing out. But more, if you're not collecting such important data, can you really call yourself a retailer?

Is ten times five equal to one times fifty?

Arithmetically yes, but I'm talking perceptions...

Let's say all your retail sales are on Saturdays and nothing Monday to Friday. It's been like it for years. Free time during the week and no time to serve anyone on Saturdays - you're so busy serving everyone!

Then, for reasons that don't matter, things change. Now no-one's buying on Saturdays; they're all buying during the week. What was hectic is now free. And what was free now trickles with customers all day. It's all completely changed.

But when you look at the till you're making the same sales now as you were before. Which is odd because one feels so much better than the other. Can it really be while everything's changed nothing really has? How could that happen?


Perception's an odd thing. We rely on it so much yet it's anything but unreliable. Cognitive biases cloud our rationality and judgement. Meaning even when we sure we're being level-headed and sensible we're not. And two identical weeks seem different.

How to get at the ‘truth'? How can you be sure you're perceiving things realistically? Reliable data's a good start. The means to generate it dependably and free from bias would be a great help. Given our problem - getting a reliable grip on numbers of people visiting - a footfall counter would make sense. But as we've seen, the issue is the cost...

But what if I said you could install one yourself? That you could automate counting easily and cheaply. And you could do it in less than 15 minutes…

Open sesame!

Installing and setting up a footfall counter is completely straightforward. Putting on your Smart head all you're doing is enabling a sensor to record each time it ‘breaks' in a spreadsheet. Now, Mi|Home products won't do this but you can by linking them with a Smart service - that's what IFTTT does. So how do you do it?

First attach the Open Sensor to your door. Pop in a battery and it's ready to pair with your Gateway – see "Mi|Home Unboxing and Set Up Instructions" for more on that.

Next, if you've not a free Google account create one here. You'll need one so IFTTT can write the sensor ‘break' to a sheet in your Google Drive. And on that if you've not yet set up an IFTTT account – as I suggested in "Step One to Smart Home" - do.

Once you've these things in place you're ready to go. You've got all the elements you need, you now need to make it all work together.

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