Augmenting the reality of my two year old and the lesson for IoT

As part of my job I get to see a lot of demos. I have enjoyed playing with the major VR platforms, I was certainly impressed by HoloLens, and I spent about a few weeks hatching eggs and capturing Pokemon around the greater NYC area.

But this week I had my first emotional connection with AR.

I learned about it through an IoT integration.

And there is a lesson here for both industries.


Earlier this week a Seattle startup called Freak’n Genius launched a nifty app called Campfire. The premise is simple, while I read my daughter one of her favorite books (Brown Bear Brown Bear, What Do You See is a perennial nighttime choice), the Campfire app captures my speech and recognizes where I am in the story. Using this information it embellishes the story in the way of a soundtrack, sound effects and a lighttrack. The lighttrack is delivered courtesy of an integration with one of our LifX bulbs.

For those of you that know Brown Bear, Brown Bear the sound effects and color choices are discrete and pretty much as you would expect, fun in a very direct way. In Harold and the Purple Crayon the music is transporting, the sound of the crayon as it meanders through the narrative is mesmerizing and the subtlety of color and saturation of the moonscape played by the LifX bulb is whimsical.

My daughter is only two, but she is transfixed, and a sense of wonder lights up across her face, and by transitive property of dad on mine.

The beauty of the experience is that our behavior didn’t change, My daughter sits on my lap as we leaf through the book. When she decides that a previous page deserves more attention we can go back without breaking the spell.

It is no less physical.

It is no less social.

It is more; More immersive, more fulfilling and all together bigger.

This is what augmented reality should be, a delightful experience without forcing people to make a false tradeoff.

There is also an important lesson here for IoT and Connected Home brands. As an industry we have certainly improved. In 2012–2013 when Nest, WeMo and Hue all launched we changed the conversation from technology to use cases. Since then the most powerful brands have elevated that story telling but we need to go further. Let’s find the joy and bring emotion to the table. Our stories are functional. Yes we save money, provide piece of mind and help optimize first world comforts from the couch, but we in that we neglect the higher end emotions that make a family a family and a home a home.