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IKEA Smart Lighting Products To Connect With Voice-Activated Assistants

IKEA is expanding its offerings for the connected home by opening its smart lighting platform to voice controls via Amazon's Alexa, Apple's HomeKit & Siri, And Google Assistant.

A year after introducing its smart lighting series, IKEA is now preparing to allow consumers to control those products via connected home and devices such as Amazon Echo (and its voice-activated agent Alexa), Apple’s HomeKit and Siri, and Google Assistant.

Up until now, the Swedish furniture retail chain’s year-old TRÅDFRI line of smart products would only respond to the accompanying IKEA app. In a Swedish-language press release (noticed by Techcrunch), the company says that over the course of the summer and fall, it will being integrating its smart home products with the connected intelligence systems of Apple, Amazon, and Google.

“By making sure that our products work with others in the market, we are taking another step to meet people’s needs, and make it easier to interact with the products for the smart home,” said Björn Block, product manager for IKEA Smart Home, in a statement.

The IKEA smart home kit comes with two bulbs, remote control, and a router for internet access is priced at $79.99. Dimming kits for IKEA lighting cost about $27, according to the brand’s website.

Marketers have barely just begun to strategize how the connected home, connected car, and Internet of Things devices in between, will shape their branding and advertising.

While smart home product shipments rose 29 percent last year, according to eMarketer, the population with these IoT devices remains fairly small. Still, as Park Associates has noted, 56 percent of U.S. broadband households want to use voice-activated personal assistance to control smart home products versus 55 percent of those who want to use voice to control entertainment devices.

Earlier this month, eMarketer estimated that by the end of 2017, 35.6 million Americans will use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month for sudden rise of 128.9 percent over last year. And according to Forrester, 33 percent of U.S. online adults say they use intelligent agents like Google Now or Cortana.

As for the future, over 442 million — including connected entertainment, mobile, health, and smart home devices — are expected to be sold in 2020, Parks Associates is forecasting.

Google Home and Apple have tried to drive awareness with their individual efforts.  At the moment, Amazon’s Echo device has achieved considerable dominance with a 70.6 percent of users in that space. Google Home, which only launched last October, will have to catch up as it has just 23.8 percent of the market.

While that number could change quickly as these devices are still just outside the mainstream of consumer usage, there are a number of smaller voice-activated device makers, including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon, and Mattel, that are entering the game now.

The proliferation of all these connected devices tends to have a dilutive effect on the marketplace. But IKEA’s ability to sell furniture to younger consumers, it can help drive the appeal of the connected home on two fronts.

One, IKEA is generally known for its affordability. Two, by embracing all the major IoT and voice-assistant platforms from Amazon, Apple, and Google, it can concentrate the development of this marketplace. As the smart home becomes more mainstream, by creating hubs that are agnostic as to whether Google, Amazon, or Apple powers them, IKEA can help usher in mass market adoption of IoT, connected intelligence, and the voice-activation marketing that follows.