Every year at CES, the media and analyst community is wowed by the product innovation taking place thanks to the new capabilities offered by the IoT and the convergence of the physical and digital worlds. New product categories continue to emerge and take the internet by storm, like this year’s new wearable smart, connected breast pump.
While the endless array of start-ups creating quirky new products makes for exceptional entertainment, I find product evolution, not invention, to be the most promising sign that the internet of things has arrived, bringing with it inspiration for new innovations and tremendous opportunities for all types of businesses to capitalize on.
It may be surprising to see brands like Craftsman at CES, whose products carry a reputation for simplicity and reliability, but even Craftsman has released an impressive new IoT offering on an unsuspecting product – a lawnmower.
Dubbed the Smart Lawn, the mower looks like a standard ride-on mower. On closer inspection, however, the capabilities and services Craftsman has layered on this product embodies many of the possibilities offered by digital and physical convergence through the embedding of digital sensors, connectivity, and companion applications.
- Personalized guidance: Integrating data about your last mow date, typical length of time to mow, time until sunset, and local weather data, the companion app dynamically notifies you of the best time to mow your lawn. By integrating and analyzing different sources of data to inform the user, the virtual assistance of the Smart Lawn app is sure to provide an exceptional user experience.
- Predictive Maintenance: By tracking usage and performance data from the mower, the Smart Lawn can help users understand what maintenance needs to be performed and provides proactive reminders to ensure the mower stays in peak condition. This will save Craftsman a lot of service calls, warranty claims, and reinforce their tried and true reputation as providers of sturdy and reliable products.
- Parts Ordering: As the app reminds customers of maintenance needs of the mower, they’ve streamlined the customer experience by allowing connected parts ordering. This in-app part ordering system not only allows customers to order parts immediately upon notification of a maintenance or service need, but also ensures customers are choosing the correct parts by limiting results to those parts which are compatible with their exact model and configuration of mower.
- Step-by-step Work Instructions: By providing digital documentation of service and maintenance procedures, the Smart Lawn app helps customers perform their own maintenance by guiding them with video tutorials and step-by-step instructions. Say goodbye to angry service calls and frustrating paper manuals.
- Retrofit existing products: Quite possibly the most unique and impressive feature being rolled out by Craftsman in this announcement is their Smart Plug Adapter, which enables you to retrofit an older model of ride-on mower in a matter of seconds to connect it and reap the benefits of the new app and services.
Craftsman began selling push lawnmowers in 1934 for $8.95 through the Sears catalogue. Today, Craftsman is brilliantly leveraging the IoT to enable a number of new capabilities that reinforce their unique position as the most simple and reliable tools. This is a truly remarkable point in the continuing evolution of products and I’m excited to see what else 2017 holds in store.
To learn more about these and other IoT use cases that differentiate your products and services, click here.
Image by m01229 on Flickr (CC by 2.0)