Practical Applications of the Internet of Things
An exciting revolution is just around the corner, where an Internet of Things is able to improve lives and innovate in ways that previously seemed unimaginable. In Part 1 of this series we explored the MIT Review of the Internet of Things, looking at what it means and how the economics of it will work. In this second part we will look at how the Internet of Things is envisaged to be used on a practical level, and how it is already being used.
The MIT Technology Review of the Internet of Things provides some fascinating insights on the near future regarding how technology will be applied to simple devices and electronics in order to make improvements. One such change that MIT writes of is with regard to the electric light. Radio chips are being added to light bulbs by Philips Lighting. This is allowing lights to get networked, and the outcome of that is that it will be possible to be more energy efficient. As MIT explains:
“Light bulbs can readily share space with sensors, wireless chips and a small computer, allowing light fixtures to become networked sensor hubs”.
One of the interesting and fun innovations that is a part of this, is that Philips has been able to work with app developers to come up with ways to change the colour of the light that comes through the bulb. It is possible to download an app named Goldee, and this will allow a customer to change the colour of their house to that of a sunset. Alternatively, MIT explains that it is possible to make lights flash to jukebox music. Of course, as Philips explains, this is just the beginning, and there are many ways in which it may be possible to use this technology to integrate it with other systems. For example, sensors can switch the lights off when nobody is there, which it is claimed can reduce spend on lighting by 70%.
Another fascinating innovation that is created that falls under the umbrella of the Internet of Things is that of wearable technology. Google Glass is perhaps the most famous and well known example of this, but there are plenty of others that you may not be as aware of. In fact it is estimated by the MIT Review that the IDC estimates that:
“19 Million: Number of watches, bands and other wearables expected to ship in 2014”.
This indicates a phenomenal uptake in wearable technologies. Wearable technologies include head worn computers, watches, activity trackers and more. They are able to sense their environment, record data and transmit the information that they collect to networks. As well as Google Glass, MIT reports that Google is working on glucose sensing wireless contact lenses.
There is also OMSignal which has created an OMShirt which gathers biometric data. Meanwhile Jawbone has created a wireless wristband that tracks activity. In fact Jawbone has grand visions regarding the Internet of Things, and its CEO claims that:
“Your car should know that you’re tired because you didn’t sleep that well so it should be alert to that, how awake are you when you’re driving, those things”.
Wearable technologies are not without their challenges. MIT reports that one is getting people to even wear them at all, while the other is the problem of power. However, steps are being made to develop these types of technologies and it is only a matter of time before they become quite advanced.
Another innovation is being developed by a French company named SigFox. In this case the company plans to improve the San Francisco Bay Area wireless network by making it possible to link to a variety of different items that can link to the internet. Currently mobile networks get jammed up with the volume of phone calls and data activities that people do in this area, but with this new network, objects can connect and transmit signals that will provide assistance. These items that will offer power will be embedded in the environment and will themselves be powered by batteries. If it works, this will have ramifications for other areas also where the wireless network is problematic.
The following video explains other possible applications of SigFox:
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.