You should be able to log onto Facebook via a tiny screen embedded in your dishwasher, right?
No, your fridge doesn’t need a twitter account and no, that is not the Internet of Things. What IoT will mean is that every day objects, ones that we interact with regularly, will be capable of ‘talking’ to each other. Humans will fall more and more out of the loop. Machines will be talking to machines, objects talking to objects. (Skynet anyone?)
These are a few examples of how the Internet of Things could change our daily lives:
1. You just walked out the door without your keys in your pocket. *Beep Beep*. Your smart-door delays locking the door for 30 seconds because you just left without your keys, giving you the chance to duck back inside if need be.
2. You’ve got a family history of heart disease. So much so that your GP recommends that you get an unobtrusive, internal heart monitor implanted into your arm. It’s inserted with a larger-than-you’d-like needle, and is powered by your body’s own thermal energy. It constantly monitors your heart rhythm and detects even the smallest arrhythmias. Any alarming changes and it sends a text message to your phone: “This is your heart. Please proceed to a hospital immediately.”
3. You’ve had your friends over for a dinner party, and of course set the mood with a few candles around the living room. A few too many wines later, your guests have left, and you’re off to bed. One of the candles flickers onto the curtains and they go up in flames. The smoke sets off your smoke alarm but you’re a heavy sleeper to begin with, and that third glass of wine means you’re not hearing the alarm.
Never fear, your smoke alarm sends out a message to the motion detectors throughout your house. They notice the alarm is going off, but there is no movement in the house. They send a message back to the smoke detector, which sends a signal to the local fire bridge, and out they come!
4. You’re walking down the supermarket aisle, and you get to the milk fridge. Your shopping trolley vibrates, and the screen mounted on the trolley handles displays a message: “There is no milk in your fridge. Would you like to purchase some?”
Your fridge has identified that the teenager residing in your house has drunk the 2L milk bottle you bought 2 days ago. The fridge has sent a message to your phone. Your phone knows that you’re in the supermarket and has told your trolley. Your trolley knows you’re next to the milk fridge and has told you that you’re out of milk.
So, you buy milk, and 50 other groceries. This is going to take a while to check out, right? Wrong, you simply wheel your trolley out through the smart gates, instantly scanning all the products in your trolley and charging your credit card. You receive an email with the itemized receipt.
5. It’s 2025 and you’re stepping out of the office to hail a cab to your important business meeting. Of course, your Google Calendar automatically scanned your Gmail and uploaded an entry for your meeting to your phone. Your phone told your office that you were leaving. By the time you’re at the front door, your self-driving Google Cab has pulled up. You hop in and start to tell it where you want to go. Of course, it already knows. Oh, and by the way, your Google cab is free!
It’s Autumn and you’ve heard that the snow season is lining up to be a cracker. Last weekend, you were browsing new ski jackets at the shops. You didn’t buy any of course; your old one is perfectly fine! You did try one on though.
What’s really weird is that the five screens in your Google cab just happen to be playing adverts for the jacket. The jacket sent a cookie to your smart watch. The cookie knows that you tried the jacket on, but didn’t leave the store with it. Your smart watch tells your cab which then plays you the adverts for the entire cab ride. It’s real world re-targeting.
Your cab is “Free” though.
6. You’re sitting in a queue of 50 cars at an intersection. You can see the traffic lights ahead. They turn green and you think “Go go go! We can all make it through if we try!” To your horror, four cars make it through before the lights turn red.
What if all the cars on the road could talk to each other, and better yet, talk to the traffic lights themselves? Completely optimized and efficient traffic lights. Better yet, the greater traffic system could be talking to all cars on the road everywhere, spreading out traffic via different routes based on congestion and wait times.
7. You’re a M.A.M.I.L. – a middle aged man in Lyrca. You’re out for your easy 100km Sunday morning ride, and you’re about 30km from home. It was raining the night before and the roads are slick. You take a corner a little too fast and your bike slips out from under you. You fall, hard. You’ve hit your head, you’re unconscious and you’re by yourself, 30km from home.
The accelerometer in your helmet has detected that you’ve hit your head. Your helmet ‘calls out’ to see if your bike is near by (it is) and if it’s moving (it’s not). Your bike sounds an emergency alarm for five seconds. If it’s not deactivated, your bike sends your exact location to an ambulance, and any other emergency contacts you’ve pre-listed. Your bike alarm continues to sound, attracting the attention of passers-by. It also sends out a signal to the road sign 1km down the road warning motorists to slow down.
8. Your coffee saucer is actually a tiny scale. You’re at the café, reading Business Insider. You finish your coffee and put down the cup. You get a pop up on your tablet: “Looks like you’ve finished your coffee. Another?” You click yes, and the barista is sent an order.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any technology that can make ‘asking out the cute girl sitting at the next table’ any easier. Oh wait… maybe she’s on Tinder?
9. Your bed has an in-built sleep cycle monitor. Your new neighbours decided Thursday night was a great time to have a housewarming and play some obnoxious music until 3am. Your sleep was heavily interrupted. Your bed tells your alarm to give you an extra hour of sleep. Your alarm checks your schedule to see if you have any appointments first thing in the morning. You don’t, so it lets you sleep.
The Internet of Things is great for consumers and it is most easily understood by examples of how it will affect us as individuals; however, business & government will also be greatly improved by the Internet of Things.
The main areas we will see the Internet of Things begin to take hold will be buildings (automation), the energy sector, consumer good & services, healthcare, industrial & manufacturing, transportation, retail, security and of course any IT networks.
Like any groundbreaking new technology, the Internet of Things has the potential to drastically improve our personal lives, our work places and our industrial / manufacturing efficiencies & capabilities.
On the other hand, the ‘smarter’ the objects in our lives become, the more scope for misuse they contain. Always being connected to the things around us would mean the possibility of more surveillance, both good and bad. It also means the possibility for more fraud, scams and other vicious hacking & cyber attacks.
Oh, and just think of what the advertisers will do with it!
Dave Bonouvrie is the Head of Strategy at L&A Social Media, an agency specialising in Social Media Strategy & Implementation in Sydney and NYC. Dave has helped some of world’s most iconic brands successfully use social media on a daily basis, as well as trained hundreds of small businesses on how to effectively implement digital strategies. Over his time in social has worked with prominent brands including Stoli Vodka, nudie Juice, Magners Cider and many more.
His philosophy is that constant evaluation leads to consistent improvement, which helps to drive L&A’s focus on providing highly relevant consumer insights.