01 Dec 2014

These Walls Can Talk

Kelly Liang (MBA 2000) and the burgeoning smart home industry
by April White


(Javier Larrea/Getty Images)

Today: Most smart homes connect basic electronic devices such as lights, locks, smoke detectors, security cameras, and thermostats.

Tomorrow: Homes will be fully outfitted with smart appliances, which can make efficiency decisions such as running the washing machine when energy use is lowest; companies will begin to use data to predict and prevent home maintenance issues.

Soon: New homes will be wired for connectivity just as they are wired for electricity. “Think about a world where, instead of these sensors you have to install on your walls, they can live within the furniture and doors, in the walls. Your home comes alive without you even knowing about it,” says Liang. “That’s something we will realize over the next one to two years.”

Kelly Liang (MBA 2000) has spent her career at leading-edge tech companies: She worked in business development at YouTube before its acquisition by Google and then was part of the Google Glass team. Now, as the new head of business development for SmartThings, she’s joined the nearly $18 billion smart home industry. “This is a space that is exploding with innovations and interest and activity,” Liang says of the sector that is forecasted to grow to almost $39 billion in the next five years. Shortly after Liang joined SmartThings, Samsung purchased the two-year-old company for a rumored $200 million.

SmartThings sells a hardware hub to network your home’s Internet-enabled devices and maintains an open platform for developers and device makers to build on.

Although the industry is still in the process of developing standards so more devices can communicate, technology isn’t the biggest hurdle for SmartThings and competitors like Google-owned Nest and Apple’s HomeKit. “The first challenge is consumer awareness,” Liang says. “You can do this. You can give your home a voice.”

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 2000, Section F
follow @kellyliang

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