The Internet of Things has successfully infiltrated our homes, but what about all of our non-connected belongings, the things we wear, sit on, and store? Alas, the digital and physical worlds are colliding, and technology is certainly changing our behavior in terms of consumption.
So what's changing, exactly? How does the up-and-coming generation think about their stuff, and how do they manage all of their physical belongings alongside their virtual lives?
Physical storage for the "minimalist, connected generation"
Not only are we accumulating stuff we don't want (millennials are minimalists, if you haven't heard), but many people who live in populous areas don't have that much space to store these things anyways which explains the need for new services catered to this problem.
Take Omni for example, a San Francisco-based company that is quite literally re-calibrating the way we think about storing "small" and "miscellaneous" items. You know the things which, in aggregate, can take up a ton of space, but that you use relatively infrequently: suitcases, surfboards, those textbooks you just can't let go of for whatever reason!
All you have to do is download its app, schedule a date and time for an Omni concierge to pick up the items you're interested in having stored, then the concierge takes them to a state-of-the-art storage facility where the items are photographed and cataloged. You can then view a digital catalog of your items from your phone. When you want an item back, all you have to do is request it and Omni will deliver it back to your doorstep.
Omni's seeing an interesting element of engagement from its users. "It creates a 'magic moment' for people where they actually want to show off what's important to them in an organized way," says Omni Co-founder and CEO Tom McLeod. Some users take pride in showing off their sneaker collections or storing seasonal clothing (out of sight, but still in mind) while others, such as event producer Samantha Smith of Samantha Smith Productions, use it as an inventory tool for their businesses. Smith stores more than 2,000 items via Omni, from stemware and linens to votive candles and centerpieces.
Modern stuff-tracking for the "labeling obsessed"
Dhanush Balachandran, founder and CEO of Sortly, an app that helps you organize and label your things, comments: "I think our generation is not as emotionally attached to 'stuff' as our parents and prior generations. The younger generation prefers to gain new experiences and create memories as opposed to accumulating." He adds, "At the same time, today's clever retargeting ads successfully get people to buy things they don't necessarily want."
Sortly allows you to snap photos of your things with your phone, digitally categorize them as you please, then print your own labels (complete with QR codes) using off-the-shelf self-adhesive labels. Needless to say, we've come a long way since punch-tape label makers.
Tracking and protection for the "data conscious"
Tr?v, on the other hand, takes stuff-tracking to another level. It isn't just about organizing; the app helps you keep track of what you own so you can protect it through the app's on-demand insurance platform. Track your things by snapping a photo, searching the database, or scanning a receipt and Tr?v automatically pulls in information about them. Once all the details are there, including value of the item, you have the option to insure your items individually for a length of time you choose.
Jeff Berezny, VP of Marketing at Tr?v comments, "Today, insurance policies, particularly home and renters insurance, are extremely restrictive, forcing people to pay a set fee to insure a broad group of items. If you take a close look at the fine print, you'll see that these policies often don't cover the items that are most important to people in the situations that are most relevant, such as if your laptop were stolen while you're on the go or a bicycle is damaged while kept outside of your home."
TTr?v's mission is to change this by building a new type of insurance platform built with the mobile generation in mind. You get to digitally catalog the things in your life which are important to you and insure them with a tap. How about that?
Today, people what to know what they have and its value so they can get more use out of it and/or use it only as needed. When you think about it, it's just another aspect of the "sharing economy." If we're going to commit to owning something, we want to get the most we can out of it, which seems completely rational and dare I say judicious. Technology, in all it's glorious intangible forms, is now allowing us to "optimize" the physical things we own.
Now, imagine that!