Bigger than the Industrial Revolution.
This is how some analysts talk about the budding "Internet of Things" and the innovation that will come as a result. We will start to see a plethora of "dumb" objects become connected, sending signals to each other and alerts to our phones, and creating mounds of "little data" on all of us that will make marketers salivate. The Internet of Things took center stage at CES, with connected tennis rackets and crockpots capturing early headlines.
Some of the largest tech behemoths have recently joined together to make the Internet of Things a closer reality in all of our homes, cars and lives. The AllSeen Alliance is seeing companies such as Cisco, Panasonic and Sharp pledging to make their pipelines of new appliances and devices compatible with a networking system so machines can start interacting. By 2017, we will see smart objects hitting shelves on broad scale and we will start reducing waste, costs and inconvenience while increasing efficiency and safety.
Here are the changes coming to our everyday lives -- some obvious, other perhaps less obvious -- that I am most excited about in the Internet of Things:
Tuning your car: As more machines speak to each other and systems integrate, you will no longer miss an oil change. Your truly "smart" car will preemptively reach out to your mechanic when it is time for the annual tune up or your tire pressure is running low, and by cross referencing your calendar, appointment suggestions will be delivered to you to confirm a time with one click.
Monitoring your health: When a prescription is running low, an appointment will be made with your physician through connected RX bottles. Doctors will be kept informed with how often and when their patients are taking their medicine and those with ongoing health issues will be able to have things such as blood pressure and sugar levels monitored remotely.
Energy consumption: High-energy consumption household appliances will adjust based on dynamic price signals to lower your electric bill. Thermostats and lighting will learn your habits to create the optimal setting based on your daily life, such as turning to your ideal temperature just before you arrive home. These gadgets will also sense when no one is in the house and turn off automatically to reduce wastes and costs.
Driving and traffic jams: Driving will get a lot safer. Traffic lights will be able to adjust to real-time traffic conditions such as when an emergency vehicle is approaching. Road sensors will make changes to the speed limit based on weather and accidents, while also communicating directly to car dashboards about unsafe conditions (e.g. Slow down. The turn in a quarter mile is icey).
Grocery lists: Smart refrigerators will sense when you are running low on staples such as eggs or milk and will automatically populate your grocery list. Stores will push reminders to add items to your list when it predicts you about to run out based on your historical purchasing behavior and average buying trends. When you are walking through the store, reminders will get pushed to you to ensure you never have to make that dreaded second trip.
Our morning alarm: The traffic on your route to work and the weather will soon affect what time your alarm goes off. If there is an accident or road construction on your usual drive, your alarm will go off early and alternate routes will populate in your dashboard. Of course, your coffee machine will be in the loop to make sure you have your cup of joe for the road.
Monitoring your baby: Through their smartphones, parents will monitor their baby's breathing, temperature and activity. Babies will don connected onesies that will send an alert when there is anything abnormal. Of course, the other babies in your life will also reap the benefits of connectivity. Pet monitoring systems will allow you to monitor their activity and behavior from afar, so you can see how well your potty training is working and how honest your dog walker really is.
What's on your body: Wearable tech has perhaps gotten the most attention in the Internet of Things chatter to date. Many products are now in their second or third generations, offering sleeker designs and more integration with different systems. From monitoring activity during workouts to sleeping patterns to hearing aids, the devices that we "wear" are becoming much more sophisticated, connecting to all of our social media accounts, and tracking much more quality and quantity data.
The budding number of sensors will detect and act on environmental and other contextual factors, such as weather; will be aware of who and how many people are around in its vicinity to change levels of input and output; and adjust to save resources and improve safety.
With the growing number of connected things in our lives, we will all become more in tune with our own data (a la Nike Fuelband) and start to expect more personal interactions with brands and retailers. Marketers will need to establish a trust among consumers and prove that if they give up access to some of their personal data, in return they will get more tailored offers, deals and interactions.
Smartphones will become not only everyone's portal into the Internet of Things ecosystem (look no further than smartphone-controlled light bulbs), but a complete remote control to your life (if it isn't already). Every enterprise needs to take mobile even more seriously and have it as a key point of consideration of future connected efforts.