retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Add Target to the list of companies investing in connected household products - in this case, by opening Connected Nursery sections in some 450 of its stores, selling internet-enabled baby products that make parents’ lives easier and offer peace of mind.

The products included in the offering are air quality monitors, ear thermometers, a patch that tracks babies' breathing rates and sleep positions, and even a rubber ducky - all connected to the internet to keep parents intimately informed about infant well-being.

This is not Target's first foray into the connected appliance business - it has been testing a "Open House" connected home concept to varying degrees in Minneapolis and San Francisco, with plans to slowly expand the concept.

At the same time, there are a variety of companies testing the notion of appliance connectivity - linking everything from crockpots to refrigerators and ovens - allowing consumers to monitor and control their lives remotely.

There will be some who will hear about such products and wonder if they are a bridge too far, if they represent an effort by people to try to extend control over their environments to an almost unreasonable extent. And I must confess that I was one of those people in the beginning, but i've had people (including a couple of my students at Portland State University this summer) explain to me how such a thing as an internet-enabled slow cooker made their lives just a little easier, allowing them time to do things more important. And I think that the idea of a connected baby nursery makes an enormous amount of sense ... because when it comes to a baby's safety, I'm not sure there is such a thing as overreach.

I think this is just the beginning of where this technology is going. And it is an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: