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How The Internet of Things Could Revolutionise Our Lives, Work

16/08/2015 8:34 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Interactive mirror that allows the person standing in front of it to see a simulated view of how the clothes they wish to buy would look when they wear them without trying the clothes on, Internet of Things lab, Tecnalia Research

Imagine your home as a smart place that works by itself rather than you working for it. Lights, heaters and thermostats shut down automatically when you leave for work and start by themselves just before you arrive home. Devices are no longer controlled but are smart enough to "understand" their environment and work on a pattern you have asked them to follow. Your heater knows when you wake up every day and adjusts the temperature accordingly. Welcome to the future of the Internet of Things (IoTs), or should we say IoT 2.0?

A concept which was born way back in 1999 is on the verge of becoming a mainstay in our homes, offices, healthcare centres, cars and aeroplanes. Going by the current rate of connecting devices to the Internet, Gartner and ABI research predicts that by 2020 we will have about 30 million devices wirelessly connected to the Internet. That is seriously huge!

There is no doubt that since smartphones, IoTs is where the next big disruption lies. So what does it mean for our everyday lives - our homes, offices or healthcare centres, going forward?

IOTH: The Internet of Things and Humans

Contrary to popular belief, IoTs will not just be about controlling or managing devices. Connecting your air conditioners to your smartphones will just be part of the story. However, the loop gets closed when these same devices are further powered by "human intelligence". With mobile devices becoming ubiquitous, future mobile apps can track not just our locations but also the proximity to other objects and devices, POS, buildings and people.

"Contrary to popular belief, IoTs will not just be about controlling or managing devices. Connecting your air conditioners to your smartphones will just be part of the story."

Imagine a situation when the simple biometric system at your office not only marks your attendance but also automatically logs you into all your work apps, email accounts and ERP systems, instead of you having to manually tap into 10 different interfaces every day. IT admins can even configure workspaces instead of stand-alone devices and enforce enterprise restrictions, block access to any personal data through advanced human and device sensors.

Or imagine you walk into a restaurant and the concierge greets you with customised menu options by querying your phone and checking out your "social profile" or the data you shared publicly. Stores "browse" for your shopping preferences or things you last shopped for and then present the ensemble.

Controlling devices and appliances is just a part of the IoT ecosystem. But what makes it truly complete is when devices work on local and cloud intelligence, follow human behaviour and interactions to deliver a highly personalised experience.

Single-point manageability platforms

The biggest hurdle that the IoT faces, the elephant in the room, is the lack of standardisation or a system that offers interoperability between ecosystems and apps. So a HomeKit by Apple will not interact with Google's Nest while Philips has its own proprietary app to control lighting. The last thing that consumers need is tap on different apps to control air conditioners, refrigerators, heaters and door locks. This is the biggest ailment that can trigger the fall of the entire IoT ecosystem.

However, it's just a matter of time before we see major players opening up their systems for the greater good of consumers. We already have services like Spotify Connect, a single platform to control Sonos wireless speakers along with Apple Airplay and Bluetooth speakers. Or IFTTT (If This Than That), a platform that works on the concept of "if" and "then". For example, you can set your Nest thermostat on the basis that "if" the boiler malfunctions "then" your Hue light bulbs glow red in colour -- all this done through a single platform.

"Imagine how much value it could add to an enterprise if there was a single platform to control all field personnel and industrial/SCADA systems."

Imagine how much value it could add to an enterprise if there was a single platform to control all field personnel and industrial/SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems. So a plant supervisor can keep track of a remote plant and field equipment and any unnatural usage or fluctuation is immediately reported. The admin can further direct the nearest field staff to make a check preventing potential breakdown. In addition, the same interface allows him to control and manage information on workers' devices when on premise and further tie it up with their attendance and reimbursements -- a comprehensive manageability platform that allows the organisation to save a great amount of time, money and resources.

Like all disruptive technologies, IoTs too need to be simple to seamlessly assimilate and transform everyday lives. It is important to remember that the success of IoTs depends not just on connecting devices but on creating connected spaces and a truly connected experience.

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