Target Reboots Open House to Engage Public and Brands in IoT Space


Target Open House San Francisco IoT

Target is refreshing its Open House smart home pop-up concept, a first-of its-kind connected products showcase that opened its doors in San Francisco in the summer of 2015. Reopening its doors on February 10th, the unprecedented retail space in downtown San Francisco will continue to be more focused on educating and engaging than selling. It also aims to become an even more valuable platform to boost Internet of Things devices and awareness.

Part retail space, part lab, part tech showcase and a meeting venue for the Bay Area’s connected home tech community, the acrylic “house” with acrylic furniture offered experiential vignettes of daily life enhanced by smart tech, a “3,500 square-foot ode to IoT.”

Target Open House San Francisco IoT smart home

Why should Target showcase connected devices in a tech-savvy setting like San Francisco, let alone care about fostering conversations, learning and discovery in the space? Blend the fact that IoT devices are expected to be a $1.3 trillion market by 2020 (but the Internet of Things is still a relatively unknown space to consumers) with the retailer’s penchant for pop-ups, hands-on experiences and unexpected retail environments, and you have Open House.

“Putting a house in the space, we felt, was the most relatable and welcoming way to introduce these products,” stated Todd Waterbury, Target’s chief creative officer, in a press release. “What we’re trying to do is humanize and personalize the benefits of these products, as well as show them working in concert. It’s really about relevant storytelling and creating a destination for engagement and discovery.”

@petnetio is Bulleye’s favorite pick to #TechtheHalls this year! #TargetOpenHouse

A photo posted by Target Open House (@targetopenhouse) on

Akin to the kind of smart home display you might see at CES and receiving more than 20 awards from the likes of Fast Company, SEGD (the Society for Experiential Graphic Design) and Core77 since opening, it’s now reopening in the wake of its #TechTheHalls holiday promotion—with feedback from more than 150,000 visitors—on February 10th.

“We built Open House as an iterative space that is all about research and development around the connected consumer,” stated Gene Han, Target’s VP of consumer IoT. “We’ve measured guest traffic and sales and listened to what guests and entrepreneurs had to say about their experiences. And we’ve learned a lot about perceptions of connected home technologies.”

Five of the new features and experiences now being installed in time for next month’s reopening, according to Target’s press release:

Target Open House San Francisco• “The Garage,” a space where companies can showcase or launch early-stage products on a retail shelf, get valuable quantitative and qualitative feedback on their products and have direct visibility to Target buyers. The space will preview 16 products that will rotate every month.

• A personalized experience within the acrylic home installation that more effectively demonstrates the potential of various connected products for the user. Guests will be asked to answer a series of questions, which allow the house to show a personalized example of how connected products could fit into their lives.

• A flexible, new event space to accommodate its popular and frequent gatherings. The refreshed space will be modular, allowing Open House to more easily transition from a store during the day to a community gathering spot in the evening.

• An updated interactive space, including vertically-mounted touchscreen monitors. In all, the new space will feature around 70 IOT products.

• Enhanced feedback and analytics for brand partners, including the ability to do A/B testing, view product interactions and comparative engagement data, see event recaps and receive qualitative feedback from guests.

“Target Open House was built to be an iterative model and we’re working every day to build the future experience,” says Target Innovation Lead Kate Whitcomb of the Open House partnership with Indiegogo, which has brought products from the crowdsourced site including Oomi, a platform to control all smart home products from one device; Nanoleaf, a voice-controlled lighting kit; and Butterfleye, a smart wireless home monitoring camera.

By continuing to explore the future in smart and connected ways, Target Open House is a retail realm of possibility. Take a closer look in the videos below—and let us know if you get a chance to visit it in person.