Picture this. You open your eyes, slowly. The subtle, meditative sounds from your smart alarm clock bring you into consciousness. As you get up and brush your teeth, your daily meetings and agenda are read to you in order, preparing you for the day. When you step into your smart closet, the friendly voice of your smart assistant suggests you bring a jacket and an umbrella. The forecast for the day calls for rain, and this information has been relayed to your closet, which also keeps inventory of your clothing options. The sensor technology in your clothes measures biometric information which indicates a raised heartbeat. Your assistant tells you in a friendly voice, “Don’t worry, it’s going to be a great day…”
This is not a scene from the Jetsons; this is a glimpse into a typical morning in our near future, thanks to sensor technology and the IoT. The IoT, or Internet of Things, is the collection of devices we use in our everyday lives that use Wi-Fi and sensor technology to fulfill our basic and complex needs. When you use a fitness tracker on your phone to measure your cardio workout, you’re using the IoT. And with more and more sensor technology and smart devices being released every year, and with Wi-Fi connectivity growing more widespread than ever, the IoT future is coming, and it’s coming fast. Here’s a glimpse into some of the innovations that will shape our world, and the world of tomorrow.
The idea of a home of the future has been around since the 1960s. People dreamt up robots and automatic appliances catering to all the needs of the family. And although intelligent humanoid family robots are still far off in the distance, the smart home has arrived.
- Smart alarm clocks, connected to the cloud and smartphone, read alerts to the owner such as texts, emails, news, and weather and traffic reports. If traffic is light on a certain morning, the alarm will make the necessary adjustments to wake-up time.
- Smart refrigerators are being developed that can tell when milk is spoiled and can keep an automatic shopping list for when certain food staples are running low.
- Smart trash cans have been developed to compact waste, and to send messages to sanitation companies when they need to be picked up. When fully adapted, this will save innumerable time and money for cities. Sensor technology is responsible for all of this.
Apple also recently made their first major foray into the smart home with the release of HomeKit. HomeKit allows a homeowner to program or manually control several aspects of a home at the same time. A user could set a mood every morning, with the lights dimmed slightly, shades drawn to let in light, temperature slightly cool, certain locks in the house being opened, even water boiling for tea. And later in the evening, the shades close, lights brighten, doors lock and temperature becomes warmer.
As sensor technology has spread, and as the benefits of smart devices have entered into our society, city planners in local governments have begun to take notice. Urban planners in several cities have embraced sensor technology to revitalize city projects, and the results have been staggering.
- Intelligent street lighting produces illumination only when human movement is detected - animals or wind movement is ignored. This gives two benefits: it saves money in wasted electricity, and collects huge amounts of data. The pedestrian and vehicle traffic patterns determine how many resources need to be devoted to that area, such as police distribution and planning for walkways and bike paths.
- Smart cars and buses are another facet to the new smart city. Already in use in various parts of the world, these vehicles use sensor technology in exciting ways. Tesla’s ever-improving self-driving car is already revolutionizing the auto industry in the US. In China, smart, elevated buses alleviate traffic by literally driving over it.
- Smart concrete has embedded sensors inside which communicate traffic patterns. In a relatively short amount of time, information will be passed directly from the concrete to the computer in your car. If there is an accident up ahead, your car will slow down and stop before you even see any brake lights.
No IoT device gets as deeply into our personal lives as those in the realm of healthcare. This sensor technology actually measures important elements of our own bodies, and reports this data for different benefits.
- Wearable sensors have been developed that can read heart rate, breathing patterns, brainwaves, temperature, blood pressure, and sleeping habits, to name a few. This data will be sent to the cloud, directly connected with a person’s physician. This technology takes the mystery and guesswork out of healthcare, and provides doctors’ with an in-depth assessment of a patient’s health.
- Monitoring devices have become available for observing the elderly and homebound. Caring for loved ones suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease has always taken a great toll on the caretakers, but sensor technology is making it easier. These smart monitors dramatically lessen the anxiety of senior care by relaying detailed data regarding the patient’s movement and habits, and provides healthcare workers with a clearer picture of their patients.
The potential implications of smart healthcare devices on the medical insurance industry are substantial. Health insurers will be able to give much more accurate policies, and reduce costs to patients, because of these new, up-to-the-minute health readings. Because of the IoT and the sensor technology behind it, the insured will no longer be paying unjust and exorbitant prices for insurance.
It’s not always possible to predict exactly what tomorrow will look like. In the 1950s, visions of the year 2000 look positively ridiculous compared to the reality we lived through. But even if we aren’t able to precisely see into the future, we know that it will be faster, more convenient, and dominated by sensor technology and the IoT. Are you ready?
The advances we are witnessing in sensor technology and the IoT are both results of the same breakthrough, big data analytics. Eccella Consulting is at the forefront of data analytics, helping businesses revitalize their data strategy, to become truly data driven.