TweeksBI Two: The real Internet of Things

For a couple of years I’ve been a bystander for how the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) has been brewing. And until recently it was just that— a concept. Now it is becoming tangible.

We’ve all heard the story of smart bottles of milk that talk to smart refrigerators that talk to grocery stores, so that they can deliver a new gallon of 2% right before you are unable to prepare your morning cereal. Yet no one has seen this happen in real life.
The truth is that there are still a lot of pieces out of place for this to happen, but the good news is that the pieces are available, just not in the right place yet.

This morning I read an article about Twine, a device the size of a hockey puck which allows you to turn any object in your home into a “smart product.”  The concept is oh-so-smart-and-simple that it is genius. The little square, which retails for $125, has a couple of sensors (temperature and orientation), a WiFi connector, and is powered by two AA batteries, and also has the ability to connect to other sensors like moisture or magnetic. The applications are endless: know when your Thanksgiving turkey has thawed; get an email when your water pipes are about to freeze; receive a text message when the bottle of wine has the right temperature; be alerted when the garage door is open; let your plants remind you when they need to be watered.  All this can be done by real non-techie humans through easy-to-use cloud-based software.

The fact is that we have reached a point in which connectivity is almost ubiquitous, sensors sell for a few dollars (if not cents), and computing power is in the palm of our hands. Whenever I visit an Apple Store, I love to spend time a little section in the back of the store, looking at what I call iPhone-enabled devices. It is inspiring!

Apple Store photo

There is an ever-increasing number of purpose-specific gadgets that use the iPhone’s computing power, as well as its GPS, compass, accelerometer and gyroscope. The fact that all these things are cramped into an iPhone is amazing, but so are the devices that can leverage all those features. You can find things like baby monitors, credit card readers, golf putting aides and blood pressure monitors.

In fact, the iPhone is becoming the ultimate universal remote control. Not only can you control your entertainment system or toys at home, but you can monitor your home’s close circuit TV, dim and change the color of the lights in your living room; or turn on your car and locate it, from anywhere in the world.

Whether it’s a multi-purpose device that brings “intelligence” to dumb-things, like Twine or specific-purpose “smart” devices, the Internet of Things is becoming real, very real.

TweeksBI= “This week’s Big Inspiration.” Concepts, ideas, trends and things that I find thought-provoking.