Although often used interchangeably, smart products and connected products are two different things even though there are shared points between the two.
Let's see it in detail.
A definition of connected products
Since “connected product” refers to a variety of different things, there isn’t an official definition for this term. However, we can say that “connected products” are physical objects which can connect to the Internet, other networks, and devices. Thus, they can be controlled or monitored remotely, and they can also collect data.
Common examples of connected products are:
- Wearables (fitness trackers, smartwatches)
- Home appliances
- Connected apparel
- Smart cars
Difference between connected products and smart products
Smart products are products that have a certain amount of automation built in, that allows them to undertake certain tasks independently. This could be a thermostat that is programmed to maintain a certain room temperature, or a smart coffee maker that can be programmed wake you up with a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. Connected products do not necessarily have an intelligence of their own; rather, they rely on a connection/network to provide some sort of value-added functionality.
A connected electricity meter will report back to the energy company the amount of electricity that has been consumed and ensure the home owner only pays for exactly what they consumed, and the water company no longer needs an army of staff checking electricity meter. While both are designed to make our lives easier, connected products are designed to collect information.
In other words, smart products tend to be focusedmore on the user experience and awareness of the local context, while connected products focus more of the value of connecting to a wider network and deriving value from Big Data.
It's a subtle difference, so let's take a practical example.
Think about a light bulb. A network of connected light bulbs in an office might be controllable remotely via an app, they may collect data on their use and be remotely turned off at the end of the day A smart light bulb might be controlled locally by voice commands or be triggered by a motion or light sensor. Unlike the second lightbulb, the first one doesn’t necessarily need an “internal intelligence” to work. At the same time, the smart light bulb doesn’t necessarily collect data about the usage.
Products can be both ‘smart’ and ‘connected’. A smart connected light bulb could turn on and off as a person enters or leaves a room, in order to save energy, but by being able to connect to other devices in the cloud it can use data from the persons smartphone or image recognition from a security camera to determine who the person was and set the lighting to the personalized settings of the specific person that entered the room.