Two products. One useless, one useful. Can they play a part in making the IoT mainstream?

Two IoT products caught our eye recently that might just play a part in making the Internet of Things accessible to, you know, consumers…

One is almost utterly pointless. One has a very clear value to almost everyone. Neither quite lives up to the promise of being cheap and easy enough to use to be game changers – yet.

TileApp set out to raise $20,000 from crowdfunding. The premise is simple. You have up to 10 little tiles – a bit like Scrabble tiles that stick to things. Using your iPhone, you can track where those objects are if you are within 50-100 feet of them. A great idea and one that has clearly captured the public imagination – who isn’t always losing stuff? they have raised almost $1,500,000 already of their original goal.

A great idea and because their promise is so compelling and focused on a consumer need, it is doing very well. This is a HUGE lesson for people building things in the Internet of Things if the evidence from our Internet of Things Forum was anything to go by. Far too many people described their idea or product in terms of the technology they were using rather than the problem that they were trying to solve it became a bit of a meme for the event. This will pass.

There are a few things that need to get a lot better for this product to become a truly mainstream one – the tiles are relatively expensive and only last a year at which point you need to purchase new ones for example, it is an iPhone only product (though this may be as much about knowing your market – iPhone users tend to spend more money on technology and value their stuff more perhaps). This will change over time too. TileApp however is solving a real problem that people have that they have been able to prove people will pay on the promise that it could be solved.

Egg Minder on the other hand isn’t that useful as far as we can see – and they acknowledge that themselves. How many times have you asked yourself, if only I could solve the problem of knowing exactly how many eggs are in my fridge at any one time no matter where I am in the world?

But Egg Minder is a collaboration between Quirky and GE. Quirky is a startup that specialises in crowd sourced product development and when products are produced, they are sold via their website with well produced ‘pitchman’ style videos that are often, well, quirky.

The real value of the Egg Minder, as this article in Fast Company Magazine points out (Could This Idiotic Product Help “The Internet Of Things” Go Mainstream?), may well be the raising of consumer awareness of the concept of the Internet of Things, rather than producing huge sales.

Some may say this is the most ridiculous product ever. Quirky themselves say:

“Egg Minder is dumb, and you don’t need it. (How dumb? To quote Quirky’s own product evaluation video, “it’s a pain in the ass,” “superfluous,” “really silly,” and “the height of laziness.”)”

GE and others though are betting that it represents a window into the future.