Alfred JLAB Event – a really connected evening!

I confess to having been a little bit sceptical about the IoT (Internet of Things).  So how connected do you really want your kettle to be?  Why would I want to know the energy consumption of each of my plugs?  IoT all felt a little bit like a solution in search of a problem…

That was until last night when I was invited by one of our JLAB finalists, Alfred, to an event they had organised to demo their solution in a flat in fashionable Shoreditch. They had fitted it with lots of smart devices that we sell in John Lewis including high end televisions, controllable lighting, smart thermostats, sound systems, smart plugs – to name a few.

When I came in I was greeted by the “Alfred” team – get the reference to Batman’s butler! Their app which they are developing as part of JLAB2015, with support from John Lewis, integrates all of these devices.  That’s pretty clever but not only have they joined up all these different platforms and presented them in an easy to use app.  They have thought about how to make sense of all this data, and turn it into programmes you can set.  So what happens when I leave home, at one touch I can reduce temperatures, turn lights off, turn on security etc.  When I go to sleep I can programme what I want to happen to all my appliances.  It can even optimise your temperature to exactly how you want it – save costs or keep snug. You’re in charge!

What really impressed me, and I was expecting to be a little bit cynical; was the focus on making life easier and cheaper for the consumer.  Not giving us information we don’t want or we don’t have time for.

So I very much enjoyed my visit to the Alfred event. There is nothing like bringing an idea to life!

Please do not take from this that Alfred are the leaders in the JLAB 2015 competition, I simply admire their ambition and drive.  There are four other fascinating and very different finalists; Qudini, Ikinen, Peeple and Space Lounges, all of which have very different things to offer. Qudini are currently trialling their queue management system in the children’s shoe department of one of our shops. Very timely given it’s the busy back to school period! I hope to look at how it’s going over the weekend, so watch this space.


About paulcoby
I am CIO at the John Lewis Partnership in the UK. I was Chair of SITA - the airline solutions company owned by the Air Transport Community - for 11 years. I am also on the Boards of Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank and Pets at Home. Previously I was Head of BA Services and for 10 years CIO at British Airways. I am interested in Roman and Military History. The views expressed are entirely my own not my employers.

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