“The Internet of Things” (IoT) is a concept that is slowly, but surely, becoming more familiar in our day to day lives. If you are unaware of IoT, trust us, it’s only a matter of time before you are! The truth is, you most likely rely on IoT every single day but probably don’t realise. To explain exactly what this is, let’s take a look at Tile.
Lost and Found
We first came across this little gadget through Kickstarter, and when it arrived through our letterbox last week we were surprised at how simple and useful it actually is. Tile is a small, square shaped device that can either clip onto keyrings, stick onto larger devices or just slot into a bag. When used in conjunction with the Tile app, you can then track where it is, so for example if you have attached it to your keys you won’t have to turn the house upside down trying to find them. Your phone will vibrate as you get closer to Tile, and other Tile users’ phones act as beacons when out and about. So for instance if you lose your bag, but have the Tile inside, anyone else with the app will detect it and record their location so you can go and retrieve it. Here’s a video which explains more:
Okay, so perhaps at this stage Tile is still in the novelty phase, but the fact that even our keys or handbags can now be connected to the internet shows just how quickly IoT is developing. There are countless everyday items and appliances that are interconnected and this type of communication will only become wider ranging. It seems everyone is fighting it out to be the first to achieve this interconnectivity, and one of the biggest IoT arms races taking place at the moment is in the car.
Operating System Loyalty
We took a look at in-car technology and how big tech companies are fighting it out to secure deals with car manufacturers. This is so they can have exclusive rights to house their operating systems in automobiles’ on board control panels. But why do companies like Google and Apple want to get their operating systems into our cars? Well it’s quite simple really. Our phones will be able to connect to our cars, and will be able to control things like music, entertainment, temperature and traffic information. Creating this kind of hub within the car means that the phone is almost secondary. Let’s say you spend thousands of pounds on a new car that has an Apple operating system. If you have an Android phone, you could be missing out on a lot of your car’s features. The assumption is that it would prompt people to pledge their allegiance to one particular operating system, and allow all of their devices to be connected seamlessly.
The “Concious Home”
This desire to have a monopoly over all of our devices is what has lead Google to purchase thermostat company, Nest. Around $3.2 billion was spent on acquiring the company which specialises in thermostats and smoke detectors but the devices that Nest produce could be secondary to Google’s real vision for the company. This article on Wired goes into detail about how Nest will become a platform for interconnectivity:
The plan is to create more hardware for houses and develop the idea of a “conscious home”. Due to the fact Nest’s devices learn user patterns and schedules and adjust their own behaviour accordingly, the goal is to have a home that will be able to predict what you want, when you want it. Imagine pulling on to your drive, with the house already heated to the ideal temperature, with the kettle boiling and the TV switched on ready for you to sit down and relax. Yeah, that sort of thing.
Part of the Family
Google and Nest recently signed a deal with Npower to offer customers a reduced price Nest device upon subscription to Npower’s energy package. This attempt to get a step up on their competitors is evidence of a longer term strategy to get people to purchase devices within a certain hardware family. It’s no stretch of the imagination to see smaller domestic appliances like kettles, ovens and showers connecting to the internet in the future as part of this home ecosystem.
Going back to Kickstarter, the most-funded item of all time on the crowd funding website is now Coolest Cooler. This picnic cooler not only provides ample storage and cooling for your day out, but also allows you to charge your devices using USB and connect via Bluetooth to play music over the in-built speakers. The fact that this is so popular reflects a need for connectivity, even when out and about. It provides a charge point for phones and connects to other electronics. When cooler boxes are designed with connectivity, you know the Internet of Things is taking off…
Turning up The Heat
“Things” are starting to become devices in their own right too. The smartwatch has been on the market for a while now, but with the introduction of the Samsung Gear S, the need for the watch to connect with your phone is taken away. The Gear S has full connectivity (Bluetooth, WiFi, 4G) and can send and receive texts and calls.
As our “things” become more connected it is highly likely that our homes will act as a main hub for this device ecosystem. $3.2 billion seems like a lot to spend on an air conditioning company, but it’s clear that Google won’t be left out in the cold.