American mass merchandise retailer Target has opened a connected home store, immediately below a full store, at a San Francisco shopping center – with the aim of putting all the Internet of Things digital thermostats and door locks and so on in context.
It’s one thing, the retailer reasons, to see these kinds of gadgets in store aisles, encased in impenetrable plastic shells, and quite another to see how they’re actually used and tied together in homes.
The Target Open House – which opens to the public tomorrow – is being described as part retail space, part lab, part meeting venue for the connected home tech community.
Why this is interesting from the lens of digital signage is the heavy use of interactive video displays and touch tables that are all these to demo and provide product knowledge.
The 3,500 square-foot store has a clear acrylic house inside reminiscent of the beautiful old Victorian homes in the city. All the furniture and finishings are also acrylic, which helps keep the focus on the tech.
In the rooms, guests experience vignettes that demonstrate how multiple connected devices can work together to create real-life solutions.
Says a Target press release:
Instead of simply showing how a smart baby monitor functions, for instance, Open House connects it to other, sometimes surprising, products like a lamp and even the coffee maker and speakers. Visitors can see how a baby’s stirring prompts soothing music on the sound system and a pot of joe brewing in the kitchen.
“Putting a house in the space, we felt, was the most relatable and welcoming way to introduce these products,” says Todd Waterbury, Target’s chief creative officer. “What we’re trying to do is humanize and personalize the benefits of these products, as well as show them working in concert. It’s really about relevant storytelling and creating a destination for engagement and discovery.”
While the space is designed to demystify connected home products and inspire guests to explore the world of connected home living, Target also plans to learn from Open House.
Target and its partners will get real-time feedback from consumers interacting with the products. Plus, the space will help make connections for Target and others by regularly hosting meetings – from tech talks and meet-ups to product demos and product launches.
“From a strategic perspective, we see Internet of Things as a mega-trend on the horizon. We know it’s going to generate huge value,” says Casey Carl, Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer, whose “Enterprise Growth Initiatives” team created Target Open House. “We’re using Open House to test the trend, both for us and for guests.”