As a general rule, when there is a new technology, hilarity ensues with a dump of crap-gadgets destined for landfills near you. Technophiles of every stripe trumpet the glorious new crop of toys powered by lithium-ion batteries as the next best thing since sliced bread.
They carry the water for these garbage products because they fervently believe in the underlying technology. These technologies almost always start out as a solution in search of a problem, causing more problems than they actually solve. Outside of mobile payments in smartphones, NFC is still groping for a purpose despite the noise made by its champions.
Also groping for a purpose is the Internet of Things (IoT). Unlike NFC, IoT is finding real utility in a growing number of areas. One can find IoT in the home, the workplace, and even manufacturing. Until recently, it mostly occupied the domain of geeks and their gadgets. In another few years, it will be like smartphones: a part of our lives that we can’t live without. Here are some of the product categories poised for an IoT takeover:
IoT and home security are ripe for a long and productive partnership. We are used to monitored security systems. But when something trips the sensors, it alerts a faceless person in a monitoring station instead of you, the homeowner. Connected home security devices can not only work together, but they can alert you with exactly what is going on. Here is one scenario:
Someone tries to break into a window. The sensor turns on the flood light nearest the window. Immediately after that, the security camera comes on and points in the right direction. In addition to the police being alerted, you are alerted with still pictures and a live camera feed.
This is not science fiction. Every bit of this is possible right now. This is one of the many IoT projects that would benefit from an integrated IoT platform. You need the right tools for proper planning, testing, and data visualizations for all the metrics you will be collecting. It won’t be long before a connected security system is a standard part of a new home build.
Pardon me, but did you lock the door when you left the house this morning? You don’t need to answer that aloud. And if you had a connected door lock, you wouldn’t have to give it another thought. You could check the status of your lock right from your smartphone. If your door lock is really smart, it would lock itself automatically when you left.
The same goes for lights you might have left on, and the thermostat set to a heat level way too high for an empty house. These are the sort of problems that can correct themselves with the best smart home devices.
But the smart home can’t be just about automation. It has to be about control. Everything in the house needs to be controllable by any smartphone in the house, or any voice in the house, or manually. Right now, you can do one of these things at a time, but not mix and match at will. And it is a challenge for multiple occupants to take control at any given moment. Solve these problems, and home automation will quickly become a staple rather than a party trick.
The time has come for every scale, thermometer, blood pressure monitor, and glucose meter to have an IP address. When the baby sitter takes your child’s temperature, you ought to know what it is long before she calls. Your glucose and blood pressure numbers need to go directly into your health app of choice the moment the readings are made.
It is not just for you. Your doctor also needs easy access to these metrics so that when you go in for your next visit, they have a more accurate picture of your health situation. The devices are here now. But the infrastructure will take just a little while longer. When it comes to health and well-being, connected health monitors will be as important as health insurance.
Smarter security, control, and health will be table stakes in the home of the very near future.