At Mission and Fourth Street in San Francisco, near Yerba Buena Gardens, Target has open its doors to a newfangled store it’s calling “Open House,” featuring technological gizmos facilitating the connected home, known these days as the Internet of Things.
The "house" is meant to be a showcase, but it’s also a store — everything there is for sale, including things you’d expect, like a Nest thermostat, a Ring smart doorbell, and a Sonos music player, and some things you might not, like the Mimo baby onesie with sensors, that detects movement and alerts her parent by phone.
The project will also produce data for Target, which is working on finding the kind of merchandise that until recently helped furnish the retailer with the reputation of being on the cutting edge of merchandising, both for fashion and homewares. The showroom will also how to create a new experience in its stores.
It sounds like Target thought they might be the first on the scene with their connected Open House, but Sears, of all retailers, actually beat them to it with a similar concept store in nearby Silicon Valley. But Target may have done a smart thing by plunking theirs in the midst of a popular spot in a busy city, rather than Silicon Valley.
In any case, these retailers seem to be betting on the Internet of Things. Right now, IoT is really an almost chaotic set of ideas that manufacturers and retailers are quickly developing and throwing at consumers the way some people throw spaghetti on the wall to see if it’s ready.
“[IoT] is still largely B2G: Business to geek,” David Newman, who runs Target’s EGI team in San Francisco, told Re/code. “It needs to be humanized.”
It’s also another example of the power of the consumer — the idea people, the makers, and the retailers will all respond to whatever the consumer wants. But in order for consumers to even know what they want, all these wonderful things, and counting, must be available for them to try.
And now you can go to Target, at least in San Francisco, to do just that.