The “Internet of Things” and “smart objects” – two names for a new tidal wave of technology that covers such wide-reaching fields that it’s hard to pin down exactly what it means. According to studies such as one by consulting firm Gartner, by 2020, it will include 50 billion objects, with an estimated turnover of more than $7 trillion – a breath-taking amount! But after all, is it really so surprising? A billion people and organisations are connected via PCs, with five billion of us connected via our smartphones – so a factor of 10 for the IoT actually seems quite reasonable!
My first impression is that it’s a speculative bubble. Too strong a term for this market? Well, can you think of any other sectors where start-ups raise tens of millions of dollars every month in funding so they can launch their products and develop their technology – without really creating value or proving their profitability? In the near future we will shift to a ‘fully-connected’ world, and whole hosts of companies are preparing their champions for the battles ahead. Corporate investment funds from companies such as Orange, Intel and Google – along with many others – are jostling for position.
But not everyone shares their enthusiasm. Consumers are still unsure about concepts such as ‘smart homes’ and e-health, and smart objects are often described as ‘gadgets’. With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of small revolutions that are set to really make life so much simpler for Human V2016.
Back to sleep, young parents!
I’m not a father yet, but I know that bringing up a child requires sacrifices – particularly in terms of sleep.
Now there are devices that allow you to remotely monitor your baby’s sleep without having to check on them, and can let you know if there’s a problem – Mimobaby, for example. There are even models that help babies get back to sleep by remotely activating a lullaby recorded by their parents.
It isn’t designed to replace parents, but it could really help to make their lives a lot simpler – as well as being a way of helping couples to get some rest and avoid exhaustion!
“Okay, kids, you’re quite big now, so we’re leaving you at home this evening, but don’t open the door if anyone buzzes on the intercom!”
Leaving your children home alone for the first time while you go out? Skybell has developed an app to give you peace of mind! Featuring a device that connects to your doorbell, the software takes a photo when a visitor comes to the door, and sends it to your phone right away. Feel calmer?
Drivers – let’s relax!
Do you have a new car that’s packed full of on-board electronics – but that constantly has technical problems meaning you have to go back to the dealer every month?
Now your smartphone can connect to your car’s system to work out where the problem’s coming from. Delphi Connect has developed a smartphone app that carries out real-time diagnostics on your car.
Speaking of cars, I’ve found a solution to parking space issues. (As someone who lives in Paris, this is a real challenge for me – especially since I’m not the world’s most patient driver.)
Now there are a range of smartphone apps that let you know when a space becomes free, or even tell you how many free spaces there are in nearby car parks.
For example, Apila offers an app that uses statistics to work out the best route to find somewhere to park – it’s a blend of a community-based system and Big Data technology.
Our list is far from complete, but this article’s already coming to an end! Here are a few more objects you might find useful:
- Do you often lose your keys? A range of GPS keyrings are on the market, and the cost is falling.
- Overwhelmed by all your pills? A smart pill container will make your life a lot simpler.
- Got a brilliant idea but don’t have time to write it down? Talking with someone and heard a great sentence that you want to remember? Kapture records the last 60 seconds of your conversation and saves them on a private online server, ready for you to listen to them again!
This is just a taster of what you can now find in the world of the IoT. The list is long and there’s still a huge range of approaches to be explored to make our lives easier. I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity and encouraged you to keep your eye on this emerging sector!