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An Internet of Everything Startup Spotlight: Alex Hawkinson, Founder & CEO, SmartThings

Last month I kicked off a new series focusing on companies and start-ups that are helping to move the Internet of Everything (IoE) forward. Today, I am excited to share some insights from Alex Hawkinson, founder of SmartThings, a platform for automating connected objects.

Alex shares an interesting perspective with us about the value of increased connections and how creating an open, low-cost way to automate our lives is key to achieving the full benefit of the Internet of Everything. Here’s a look at how Alex and SmartThings are pioneering the growth of IoE.

AHawkinsonSmartThings is garnering a lot of buzz in the industry for adding intelligence to everyday objects to achieve home and office automation. In which ways is SmartThings leading the way by connecting the previously unconnected?

The dream of the Jetsons-style house has long been just that – a dream. Different smart devices have come to market but, generally speaking, they’ve been hard to buy, set up and use. With SmartThings we set out to create a single platform and single app interface from which you can control all of the connected objects in your life. When you purchase a SmartThings kit, you can connect pieces of your home in minutes once you plug in the hub and download the app. You can mix and match third-party devices with those created by SmartThings to build the connected space that makes the most sense for you. SmartThings is simple enough that the average smartphone user can bring a connected world to life, but sophisticated enough that an inventor can create completely new devices and applications to custom fit his or her needs.

SmartThingsAt Cisco, we refer to the Internet of Everything as connecting people, process, data and things. How does SmartThings help make each of these types of connections possible?

At SmartThings our main focus has always been to make the world smarter together, which means helping connect all of those categories – people, process, data, and things. To help people get connected quickly and easily, we’ve tailored our SmartThings Kits to meet the most frequently requested needs of home and business owners, and vigorously tested all of the devices for sale in the SmartThings Shop.

We also believe that the power of the people in the SmartThings community will drive future innovation, so the platform is completely open. With the open platform, inventors and developers can produce new types of connected physical things and unique apps in the cloud. Plus SmartThings supports the leading existing standards so that thousands of third-party devices can connect to the platform, making it possible today to easily address opportunities in security, safety, convenience, energy management, and more.

We’ve also been working on some great partnerships, including one just recently with IFTTT, to further build out this open community and push the potential for the Internet of Things. We support collaboration, whether through partnerships, third-party device support or our open community of inventors, as this is what it will take for the Internet of Everything to become a reality.

In which ways has the Internet of Everything started with SmartThings?

The idea for SmartThings grew out of my frustration upon arriving at my family’s cabin in Colorado to find it destroyed by months of moisture damage that occurred when the home lost power in low temperatures, causing the plumbing to freeze and burst. With the home destroyed by water from the thawed pipes, I knew there had to be a way to retrofit the house to let me know if this were to happen in the future. I quickly learned there were no simple, cost-effective solutions, and that the ones I did find were completely disparate.

Immediately, the vision for SmartThings was born. We wanted to build not just a single device but a platform to connect all open devices, bridging the physical world and putting your home in the palm of your hand through a simple smartphone app. We believe that consumer adoption of the Internet of Everything hinges on that type of flexibility to create a simple, cost-effective, powerful, and easy-to-manage connection to your home that is uniquely your own.

Looking to the future, how will SmartThings evolve and grow in the next five to 10 years?

We will relentlessly pursue our goal of making our consumer experience so simple and cost effective that it is accessible to every household in the world. We will also stay true to our vision for SmartThings as an open platform, supporting and growing the ecosystem of developers and inventors who are helping to bring SmartThings and intelligence to more and more facets of life. Within five to 10 years, we believe that this unique combination of accessibility and openness will have a global impact, improving the quality of life for millions of consumers.

How are IoE-focused start-ups changing the way you connect? Let us know via comment below.

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