Susan Paley on Game-Changing Technology

At Dwell on Design, Susan Paley, the entrepreneur and strategic advisor behind such brands as Beats by Dre and JBL, shares her insider perspective on what's on the home tech horizon. We preview the panel, which takes place Sunday, May 31, at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are available here.
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What innovations and trends excite you most?

On Sunday, May 31, at 12:30 p.m. Susan Paley will appear at Dwell on Design to discuss the changing role of technology in modern culture.

For me the most exciting trends disrupt the status quo by offering new levels of access to technology, goods, and services than were previously available. Often these unprecedented levels of access are accompanied by a greater focus on design and customization.

The 3-D printer advances from companies like Makerbot and the financial success of Etsy prove this is a real economy and not just about crafts.

Paley was instrumental in building Beats By Dre into a consumer-brand powerhouse—and one of the first to define headphones as a status symbol.

In the product space, I love Nest for its innovation around design and usability. iPhones and Nest have demonstrated what happens when software and hardware are unified as a single vision.

What does a meaningful product embody?

A product is only meaningful when someone assigns value to it. A meaningful product is something that a person feels makes their life better in some way. It helps them do something or feel a certain way, as in the case of Beats.

Where do you see a gap in the current tech space? Who isn’t being served and where can consumer tech make the biggest impact?

I think there are two overarching gaps in the tech space:

1. Between the haves and have-nots. Many products are cost-prohibitive. The cost of an iPhone, Apple watch, and Samsung Galaxy Note 4 are all over $500.

2. The promise of technology versus the reality of implementation. We saw this happen over and over again with the promise of convergence, which is finally here after over 10 years of predictions. This is where we are now in wearable technology. That is why the abandonment rates are so high with all these devices.

Smart tech is permeating all realms of products. How does this represent how comfortable people are with welcoming technology into their lives?

The Internet of Things (iOT) is such a potentially massive construct that it is difficult for people to wrap their heads around it. To drive any type of consumer adoption technology needs to answer the question of not just what it is, but why should I care.

As I see it, there are three forces driving development and adoption of goods and services connected to the iOT:

1. Convenience, safety, and health. Convenience companies like Nest, smart locks, air conditioners, speakers, cooking appliances, etc. all promise added convenience and better usability.

2. Safety through remote monitoring. Products like Canary and Scout offer a cheaper option for home security.

3. Health or digital health. Consumer-focused wearable devices allow you to monitor and manage personal health conditions.


Click here to register for Dwell on Design 2015 and hear more from Susan Paley


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