Interview with Guillaume Lefebvre
Guillaume Lefebvre works in our R&D department where he is in charge of new user experiences and, more specifically, the interactions between the user and online connected services. He joined us in July 2000 right after the completion of his studies.
The world of connected objects is growing on a daily basis. Can you tell us about the latest advances and developments in this prolific industry?
Indeed, this industry is rapidly evolving, a fact that was highlighted at this year’s CES* with new start-ups, specialized in this field, and many new concepts. What is interesting is that the current trend is the enhancement of objects, which are already helpful in our daily life, such as toothbrushes or alarm clocks for example, by adding connectivity through the Internet of Things. This trend shows that the industry is no longer just for gadgets and new concepts, which consumers have to incorporate in their daily lives in addition to what they already use. These new objects now work seamlessly in everyday life and can intercommunicate. In this context, we have already seen, for example, a connected alarm clock concept that can communicate with a connected thermostat, enabling smart temperature control based on the alarms set by the end user.
At the core of this trend are the ROI need for companies and the need of services for consumers. Indeed, recent studies have shown that consumers are willing to spend more money for connected objects but only if these objects can provide useful and tangible services.
What are our advances in this sector since the last time we spoke?
Our major advances have mainly been in the B2B field with, for example, truck monitoring and equipment tracking such as soft drink vending machines. In parallel, we have also made technological advances in the B2C field through our clients in the household appliances industry, for example.
We also work with our clients, in the B2C field, in order to identify new innovative concepts for their end users, connecting everyday objects to provide services to both end consumers and to our clients.
It is in this context that we have worked with our banking clients to determine how they could benefit from the Internet of Things, how this technology could provide services to their customers and how to embed their brand at the center of their customers’ homes. WL Connected Piggy Bank was born from this work.
Can you tell us more about this concept, its functionalities and its benefits for banks and end users?
WL Connected Piggy Bank is not only a connected piggy bank, it is a piggy bank connected to the bank and to a child’s savings accounts. The idea behind this connected piggy bank is to help parents in regards to the education of their children towards money and, by extension, towards the relationship with the bank, in a concrete, simple and fun way. This piggy bank was designed to evolve with the child, its functionalities adapting therefore to his age, from the early years to adolescence. For younger children, it can be used as a night light or a music player, and, when the child grows up and begins to physically put coins in it, he will be able to see these coins virtually “fall” on his savings account via the mobile app linked to the piggy bank, which is itself connected to the home’s Wi-Fi. When transfers are made on the account, the child will see it happen in real-time on the mobile app but also on his piggy bank, which will light up with each transfer. In addition, the piggy bank is also equipped with an NFC chip, which means that a transfer, or an online payment, can simply be done via smartphone by simply tapping it on the snout of the piggy bank.
What do you think the future holds for this industry?
This industry is only in its infancy and a lot of avenues remain to be explored. In my opinion, the future will bring a cross between the levels of service provided by these objects and their costs, their decrease at least.
Thank you for your time today, Guillaume. I will leave you with one final question: if you could invent a new innovative solution to help with one of your daily tasks, in your professional and/or private life, what would it be and why?
For me, it would be my bathroom mirror. It would mainly have an educational use with the displaying of my water usage, a timer for the time spent brushing my teeth and many more features.
* Consumer Electronics Show, annual trade show dedicated to consumer electronics.