By Wares May 02, 2016 Smart home & security

Department store takes the lead in the UK smart home market, while IKEA is already into VR...

UK department store John Lewis has just devoted no less than 1,000 square feet (93m2) of its flagship Oxford Street store to smart home technology (see above).

Is it a punt to allocate that much space in one of the world’s most expensive retail sites? 

Well, John Lewis has done its homework, citing 18 times growth in searches for smart home products on, and its sales of smart home products which have increased by 81% from 2014 to 2015.

The in-store set-up with its full scale interactive zones – Kitchen; Entertainment; Sleep; and Home Monitoring – reflects the retailer’s belief that customers still need top quality customer service and that they want to be able to touch products and have them demonstrated.

In this respect, dedicated John Lewis staff have received extensive training to be able to do so.

Key new products within this framework include Samsung’s Family Hub Smart Fridge with built-in touch screen which allows you to internet shop from your fridge. Also on show is the new S+ by ResMed, the world’s first non-contact sleep tracking system that helps analyse and improve quality of sleep.

Other products featured in the Smart Home Experience include Philips Hue lighting; Sonos PLAY:5 wireless music system; Nest Protect 2nd Generation Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm; AEG ProCombi Plus Smart Oven; and the Netatmo Welcome Home Camera with face recognition.

All products featured in the space can be purchased both in-store and online and the smart home experience will be rolled out to other shops across the UK starting in Autumn 2016.

To set the seal on punters buying from John Lewis rather than any of the competing technology and electrical retailers, there’s the John Lewis “Never Knowingly Undersold” price promise and a two-year guarantee.

IKEA launches VR kitchen experience pilot

As well as announcing a major restructuring, April saw IKEA launch a pilot virtual reality (VR) app, called IKEA VR Experience (screenshot above), on Valve’s game Steam platform.

The aim is to solicit consumer feedback on the use of VR in visualising home projects, kitchens in the first instance.

IKEA VR Experience takes the user into a virtual life size IKEA kitchen. Designed to be used with an HTC Vive headset, the app explores one of three styles of kitchen. The user can change the cabinet and drawer colours and can view the kitchen from different perspectives by either shrinking or stretching themselves to move around the kitchen as if they were a child or an adult. 

IKEA hopes its VR Experience will also encourage consumers to contribute to development, by submitting ideas on how to use VR and how to improve the virtual kitchen.

What price a combination of John Lewis' smart home outlook and IKEA's Virtual Reality kitchen?

Watch IKEA's video on how it works here:

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