By 2015, six billion objects in the world will be connected to the internet. While it may seem tricky to grasp as a concept, the internet of things is nothing simpler, and more stunning, than objects being connected to the internet. At i...
By 2015, six billion objects in the world will be connected to the internet. While it may seem tricky to grasp as a concept, the internet of things is nothing simpler, and more stunning, than objects being connected to the internet. At its most mind-blowing, these objects are learning and adapting to the behaviour of the user.
The internet has well and truly left the computer and is running amok in ‘things’, showing us how previously inanimate, everyday objects can be bought to life through being connected . The internet of things was first coined as a term in 1999 and it is now well and truly established ; no longer a vision of a future concept but an accessible reality. If you own a Nike fuelband, then you’re already enjoying the internet of things. The potential for the internet of things to challenge our concepts of what objects can do for us and how they can function in a connected network has been turned on its head.
We’ve seen prerequisite technology such as RFID tags, once used for fairly mundane tasks as tracking stock in a warehouse, be employed to enable the internet of things, and new technology emerge such as Arduino that takes this to the next level. But rather than just being a catchall term, how does the internet of things really operate?
Communicate with objects
The internet of things relies on information travelling from one point to another, and it’s easiest to see the potential for this when you consider the impact of information flowing from YOU to an object.
Nest is a great example of this. A thermostat that you can actually communicate with, saving money and energy on heating in the home. Instead of just setting your thermostat at the start of winter and probably never touching it again, now you can text your thermostat with Nest, for example telling it if you’re going to be out for the evening unexpectedly, so there’s no need to turn the heating on. By being connected, Nest learns from you and gives you a better product experience :
Objects are also being developed that will respond to automated actions, so they can learn all the time without you actually having to do anything. Twitter recently developed a ‘tweet controlled’ alarm clock that responded to tweets to animate wooden characters. Meet Flock:
Now while this is clearly a bit of fun from Twitter, the use-cases here are wide reaching. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine a similar object that responds to tweets, to dispense medication, for example being controlled by someone via private message to remind an elderly relative when it’s time to take their tablet.
Objects communicating with each other
What we’re starting to see emerge is that instead of one object connected to an owner, or a single trigger, objects are connecting with each other to allow a new type of communication. An innovative product on the market in this area is the Good Night Lamp. A network of objects consists of a ‘master’ lamp connected to mini lamps, so that when the master lamp turned on, all or some of the other lamps light up. For a hard-working parent who often misses bedtime, being able to say goodnight by turning off your kids’ bedside lamp is a pretty heartwarming concept:
In the Cloud
Where once you would need to have a physical connection to many objects to interact with them, the internet of things ‘in the cloud’ has changed all that. And traditional manufacturers are adapting to this fast. Bosch has developed an IP-enabled security camera for use by business and in the home, that will allow you to connect with your security system when you’re not there. When the system is installed, it’s as simple as accessing the Bosch iPhone app to access a real-time view wherever you are :
Bosch isn’t the only manufacturer innovating in the internet of things here. Belkin recently released Echo Water and Echo Electricity:
Echo water can be installed by anyone and is a simple device you a
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