Let’s be honest, we live in a connected world. Our lives have become entangled in a world of devices that are tied to the internet, or at least other networks. We started out with just computers getting on the web, progressed to smartphones, and now we have cars, toasters, refrigerators, coffee makers, and even bathroom scales that all connect to each other and to the internet. We call this the Internet of Things, and you can spot these by the addition of the word “smart” to their names. This trend shows no signs of changing anytime soon.
Are IoT devices always practical?
In speaking with colleagues and friends, as well as perusing the interwebs, most IoT devices still seem to be viewed as novelties and, to some extent, this is correct. Case in point. A few years ago, I was given a wifi-enabled, internet connected egg holder. Yes, you read that correctly…egg holder. This device would connect to my home wifi, keep track of the number of eggs in the holder, how old they were, and alert me when I should buy more, all through an app on my phone. Yes, this is a ridiculous and nearly useless item, but of course, I had to test it out, it would be rude not to. I loaded it up with eggs, plopped it into the fridge, and we all giggled at what we were experiencing. Interesting times, indeed. But 3 weeks later, the eggs were gone, the novelty had worn off and into the basement it went, never to be heard from again. It also did not help that it ate batteries at an alarming rate. You see, this particular gadget was an answer to a question that no one had asked. However, you may ask, “aren’t there some useful applications for this?” Yes, there are. A friend of mine has a smart scale. Again, it connects to the home’s wifi and is controlled by an app on your phone. What makes this more useful is the fact that it integrates with fitness trackers, calorie counters, and diet apps. It has helped her engage in a healthier lifestyle.
More Practical Uses
Many new cars are coming connected to the internet. In the case of Telsa, technicians can run diagnostics on the car from across the country. They can make tweaks and changes to fix issues. They can even update the car’s software by remote means. All of this helps limit trips to the dealer. Most people can see a benefit to this. That is unless you really like burnt coffee, uncomfortable furniture, and the ever-present smell of gas, oil, and exhaust fumes that is the typical dealer service department waiting area.
The Nest line of products is by far the most visible representation of the IoT. Their smart thermostats allow you to control and monitor the temperature in your house from around the globe, or maybe just the other side of the living room. Don’t judge, that thermostat is all the way on the other side of the room, I would have to navigate the coffee table and risk injury to my little toe. They also have internet -connected doorbells with camera’s, security cameras, and smoke alarms. I sure that many of us can see useful applications for these items.
Some of these devices are clearly more useful than others. Although I’m still trying to decide where the smart fridge fits with it display on the door that shows me a live picture of the contents and the ability to remote in from my phone to see that same live picture while I’m at the grocery store. It seems that smart devices are currently about filling niches rather than creating wholesale changes in the way we view and use the mundane products of our lives. I’m sure this will change as we figure out what works and what does not. But until then, you can always live-stream the contents of your fridge.
Uses in Business
By now it’s no secret that IoT devices are here to stay but what uses can your business get from what seems like an endless stream of novelty devices? On a serious note, smart tech and the Internet of Things is here to stay. It’s only a matter of time before these devices become an integral part of our personal lives. With comfort at home will come the inevitable adoption into our work lives. It’s unlikely to be that fridge, bathroom scale, or a live-tweeting toaster, but there will be some devices that make your life in the office that much easier or just that much more enjoyable. It is so important to identify these trends early and expand your infrastructure accordingly. Contact The TNS Group today to strategically plan the future of the tech for your business. You never want to get caught on the back foot.
By: Dana Berwick, Client Services, The TNS Group