How the Internet Of Things will add value to our lives

The next wave of the Internet revolution is set to revolutionise the way we live, driving efficiencies in our homes, enhancing our health and increasing productivity with our lifestyle.

So, what is the Internet Of Things (IOT) and what can it do for you and for your organisation? The Internet Of Things describes the vast array of connected devices that are able to share and respond to data online.  Already there is an estimated three times the number of internet-connected devices for each of the 7 billion + people on this planet. This number is expected to grow to 50 billion by 2020.

I believe there are four trends that, together, are a major catalyst for this expansion.

  1. Cheaper and more efficient wireless connectivity
  2. Rising adoption and reduced cost of cloud storage, providing ability to store data
  3. Increased accuracy of geo-location
  4. Crowdfunding revolution (e.g. This Kickstarter project for monitoring your garden adding time efficiencies to garden care and maintenance)

The internet-enabled fridge was often used as the hero example for the connected home. However, in practice, putting an internet connected device on the outside of your fridge did little to add value to the kitchen supply chain. It’s no surprise that the smart fridge isn’t driving the growth of the Internet of Things, so let’s look at some examples that bring this to life.

Perhaps the most visible Internet Of Things device is the wearable health trackers that measure activity (using geo-location), sleep (movement), and diet intake (scanned or entered).  These trackers are often referred to as the “Quantified Self”, because the information provided helps to quantify physical metrics.

While most devices provide a basic level of reporting, a number of health aggregator dashboard products (such as TicTrac and Carepass) have emerged, which attempt to provide value by reporting insights from multiple data sources.  Apple and Samsung have also recently announced health initiatives, which are further fuelling disruption and spawning numerous products to assist with health tracking. These lifestyle-tracking tools are set to deliver time efficiencies by delivering improved personalised wellness plans.  In addition, some are niche products that have emerged like the HAPIfork, which tracks how fast you eat and sends that information to your smart phone or desktop. British Airways are even trialling Happiness Blankets as a way to measure how relaxed people are on flights. They are hoping that results will help reduce Jet lag, potentially providing time efficiencies to their travellers.

The Internet of Things is also having an impact on our home life.  DIY security systems for the home or office are growing rapidly. This is illustrated by Google’s purchase of Nest for $3.2 billion.  Nest was able to offer energy savings to consumers with their smart thermostats, and has subsequently expanded into security with their subsequent acquisition of Dropcam for $555 million. Dropcam provides easy to install Wi-Fi enabled cameras that stream content into the cloud, allowing you to stay constantly vigilant. Phillips is also a significant player in the Internet Of Things, most notably for the Hue. Their Personal Wireless Lighting product provides value by automatically changing colour in response to many different stimuli, including the weather.

Homey is another kickstarter project that combines your devices and the internet to allow for smart time saving scenarios. Imagine you are at the supermarket and you buy some things that will be cooked in the oven. You can remotely pre-heat the oven so it’s ready for cooking when you walk through the door. Home temperature, lights and curtains can be automatically adjusted for when you arrive. Cost savings are subsequently generated through better automation of house environment and time savings come from not having to manually set controls.

We are in the early stages of the Internet Of Things. Both consumer and industry adoption and investment is being made to connect multiple data sources to unlock insights. Insights can be presented for specific audience segments, locations, and times.

Intelligent alerts or automatic rule-based actions are perhaps the most exciting disruption generated from the Internet Of Things.  For example, a surfer might like the alarm to go off 2 hours before high tide, but only if the waves are over 3 foot high.  Smart alarm clocks access weather and surf data to trigger if and when the activated factors correlate. A popular tool, if this, then that, (IFTTT) is an exciting database of smart alerts (which they call recipes) that can interact and execute.

Travel is also gaining the benefits of the Internet Of Things. Automotive applications include tracking of car diagnostic information and alerting customers via smart phones or heads up displays. For example, if the car is less than a quarter full, an alert could be triggered with the cheapest petrol station along your route, saving both time and money.

I expect to see greater integration of disparate data sources to continue adding time efficiencies to our life. So I’ll leave you with a challenge. What are you doing to refine and communicate the potential time saving features of your organisation’s products or services?

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