Mobile technology, the Internet of things (IoT) and the new smart home
Mobile is driving the digital world home–literally. From Audi’s fully integrated cars and tablets unveiled at CES earlier this year, to new innovations for homes controlled by mobile devices, “digital lifestyle” is trending. In this emerging Internet of Things (IoT) world, the Internet acts as conduits between apps and physical, ordinary objects, promising an extraordinary lifestyle.
The original concept was an idea put forward in 1991 and developed further by Kevin Ashton, a member of the team involved in development of the radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system. IoT refers to the use of the Internet to connect physical objects together via sensors. Examples of IoT are Google’s wearable gadgets, which include smart home devices. One of these products, the Nest Smart Thermostat, connects to the Internet. Since its launch in 2012, it has been severely challenged by Honeywell patent charges and Honeywell’s Lyric system, which has newer geofencing technology.
What is Geofencing?
Geofencing is technology that uses GPS or RFID to set virtual barriers, anywhere. In a home, it can be used not just for the smart thermostat, but also to program house lights and alarm systems using the Philips Hue 1.1, iViri or similar apps. With geofencing, you can even use a feature that will allow you to switch lights on and off while on vacation.
Before geofencing, there was the Bluetooth Smart technology, which is one of the world’s most reliable wireless communications system for mobile devices. This leading technology is still being used everywhere from schools to offices and hospitals to homes. Over 40 million medical devices use Bluetooth technology to provide portable glucose monitors, heart and blood pressure monitors, exercise equipment, and even bathroom scales. Bluetooth technology is a staple feature in smart phones and experts are predicting that by 2018 – in four year’s time – all mobile phones will have Bluetooth. This isn’t a shocking prediction considering that IoT experts believe that by 2020, approximately 200 billion devices will be on the IoT system. This means every person would have about 20 or more smart objects to make his or her life more convenient and efficient. The superpowered Bluetooth-enabled phone of tomorrow will allow a homemaker to create a smart home that:
- Will help with home automation of menial tasks
- Can use apps to improve energy management by letting you know your consumption, and how to optimize it, without hampering your lifestyle
- Includes a kitchen, bedroom, and laundry hub to remotely control all home appliances
- Will help you secure your house
Here are some examples of innovative solutions driving the IoT smart home of tomorrow:
Beddit– A device that tracks data on your sleeping patterns and advises you on how to sleep better. It measures sleeping time, latency, heart rate, snoring, and has features like alarm clock, tips, and your sleeping statistics.
Liftmaster MyQ line – This is a smartphone app that allows you to open your house and garage door from anywhere in the world. It also can be programmed to authorize entry to your home and close doors after a specified time which means you can be comfortable knowing that in case you forgot to lock your front door, the app will do it for you.
Goji Smart Lock – It’s a lock that can track movements and even photograph persons passing through or knocking on the door. You can also program other mobile phones to access your home with this app so you do not have to distribute house keys among friends and family.
The Future of IoT
Granted, there is a lot to be excited about with IoT and organizing a well-run home, especially with the technology getting cheaper. What could possibly go wrong? According to entrepreneur and philanthropist Jason Hope, IoT is going to automate so many of today’s manual processes that the home is destined to become a living extension of its owner. “There are so many applications for the mobile phone that have not yet been discovered,” Hope says, “As more research is done into new applications, the Internet of Things will only grow more pervasive in the community.”
There are a couple of initial hurdles to overcome before it flourishes, however. First, IoT needs to deliver solid consumer value, not mere novelty. If innovations are saving consumers’ time and money, the value proposition becomes unshakable. As Jason Hope predicts, “Mobile devices are going to go beyond just opening garage doors, and adjusting the thermostat from your seat. They’re going to give us updates when a door or window is opened, increasing security; they’re going to automatically alert our air conditioning unit to turn on once you get close to the house.” But that value will only be realized if IoT is easy to set up and use.
The days when consumers would read manuals and how-to instructions are gone. The world would rather “plug and play” or “download and install.” In addition, some experts foresee the potential for “app fatigue,” where consumers will demand streamlining of apps so they don’t have to manage a dozen or more every day. Dave Evans, Chief Futurist at Cisco, who prefers calling it the Internet of Everything, says, “It is up to all of us to get involved to ensure that the Internet, as IoE unfolds, continues to be a powerful force for improving people’s lives.”
The last and most important issue to be concerned about is security. To date, there have been no major problems with IoT hacking, the fear of such a threat looms. Just like the fears about Y2K many years back that went away, such IoT hacking fears will likely be temporary.
How soon could we see all this in our daily lives? If devices and software work together seamlessly,”the realization of a broad, interconnected, digital sixth sense-enabled could be only about three to five years away,” according to tech industry consultant, and Time contributor Tim Bajarin. “If not, it could take another six to eight years to flesh this out.”
Main image credit: gvalerio.com