20th November 2016
Five incredibly diverse solutions from the Internet of Things
It’s fair to say that the bog-standard internet has revolutionised life for so many people, from international businesses being able to exchange large files within seconds, to grandparents Skype-chatting with their grandchildren like they were in the same room, if they and their parents have emigrated after watching one too many overseas property programs on telly.
Joining people together is great, but almost as soon as the idea of the basic internet had started to take off in the 1980s, technologists couldn’t stop daydreaming about the notion of joining things together – all manner of stuff from buildings and vehicles to gadgets and kitchen utensils. The speed of progress having perhaps taken some by surprise, the Internet of Things (IoT for short) is now very much here, so we thought we’d compile some of the most amazing or unusual IoT developments already with us or within touching distance.
Wearable baby monitors
Forget old-fashioned audio-only products that look like walkie talkies and even swanky video monitors which are already so yesterday, darling. Data-happy parents, particular millennials, are being wooed by IoT wearable tech products like the Mimo onesie1. With sensors embedded in the fabric, the suit measures a baby’s sleep patterns and body movements, transmitting the real-time data to a parent’s smartphone app. Reassured that the system will alert them when their precious bundle of joy wakes up or even just turns over, it’ll hopefully help everyone get a better night’s sleep. For any parents worried their little ones might stop breathing during the night, a connected wearable sock based on pulse oximetry technology is available from Owlet2.
Wag translation apps
Most dog owners are quick to say that they understand their pooches intimately, but for any who aren’t so in-tune, they can always consider a canine wearable like TailTalk. A tracker worn on the dog’s tail translates movement, or lack of, into emotional wellbeing, so that owners can monitor their dogs’ happiness from an app connected to the cloud. The sensor contains a three-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, which is just as well, because whether your dog’s tail leans to the left or right means something. Fitness wearables for dogs are also available, such as FitBark, helping see when a dog is the most active and even benchmarking him or her against their four-legged mates4.
Power as you go
The modern world requires so much power that finding viable alternative energy sources is vital. One thing most of us do each day is walk, even if that’s only a few paces in some cases. What if the energy from our footsteps could be harnessed to power other stuff? That’s exactly what Pavegen have been pioneering, capturing the kinetic energy created by footsteps on their (recycled, naturally) piezoelectric flexible floor tiles, in order to power things like lighting. Heathrow airport and Westfield Stratford already use some Pavegen tiles, and children playing football in Rio de Janeiro were even kept safe by the pitch’s floodlights being powered by their running around. The IoT will allow Pavegen to analise how much energy is created in various locations and a person’s footstep energy could even be traded as a commodity in the future, shops giving discounts for customers who’ve helped light up their premises by browsing aisles for longer.
A Fridge Too Far?
An array of IoT-connected kitchen appliances and utensils are frequently being introduced by manufacturers. Take Samsung, for example, which sells a range of SmartThings products along with an app. At the Consumer Electronics Show 2016 in Vegas, they showcased the Family Hub fridge boasting a 21.5-inch HD touchscreen on one of its double doors. Yes, as you’ve perhaps already guessed, it can be used for watching TV while you cook. The screen also acts as a web browser, which is great for displaying recipes, and family members can use it to leave messages, making Post-it notes and magnetic letters a thing of the past. The smartphone app-connected fridge has an internal camera meaning it’ll no longer matter if you get to the supermarket forgetting whether you need to buy butter or not. It even alerts you if you’re running out of mayonnaise, for example, and will conceivably be able to automatically order items online in the near future. The next step will presumably then be for an autonomous vehicle to deliver replenishables, and some say that fridges of the future will even be able to suggest in-stock meals to you based on how your wearable rates you as feeling emotionally or according to how much exercise you’ve done.
Buildings and vehicles in cahoots
Growing numbers of new car and commercial vehicle models already feature internet-connected technology and companies like Ford with its SYNC infotainment system are beavering away at perfecting the reality of smart cars talking to smart homes and vice versa, in conjunction with smart home app developers such as Amazon and Wink7. It’ll soon be possible for motorists to press a touchscreen button to tell their home central heating systems, hallway lights, ovens and favourite music to switch on ready for their arrival and for the garage door to open and alarms to deactivate on approach. Conversely, building on tech like Jaguar Land Rover’s ‘Timed Climate’ which lets someone pre-heat their car on chilly winter mornings using their phone, motorists will be able to check their cars’ vital stats such as oil, screenwash and fuel levels, without leaving their homes. In the future, of course, driverless vehicles will be the norm, meaning cars will be able to boss homes around whilst the passengers are taking forty winks.
Trak Global Group is an established international leader and pioneer in the fields of telematics, usage-based insurance and technology-led vehicle solutions, working with a wide range of clients in the automotive field to harness cutting-edge technology and big data.
- http://www.wareable.com/internet-of-things/dogstar-tailtalk-wants-you-to-know-how-your-puppy-feels-1774 + http://www.dogstar.life/tailtalk-1/
- http://www.harvard.co.uk/2016/04/pavegen-internet-beings-people/ + http://www.thegreenage.co.uk/pavegen-footsteps-renewable-energy/
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