Just a few years ago, the Internet of Things (IoT) was an often-argued, too-soon proposition. But we’ve moved in light speed to a new practical application of IoT.
The IoT has grown beyond infancy and is slowly starting to get up and walk. Which chip set will carry it forward? Wi-Fi? Bluetooth? Something not yet evolved? Right now, everyone is trying to figure out how to bring all of these devices together in one seamless experience.
Today what we’re seeing is connected cars that can integrate with your phone, iPad, and other devices, get you home by voice command, and perform autonomous functions like self-drive and self-park. The next step is to extend that experience by linking your car and your home—bridging the gap so your home appliances recognize when you are pulling up to your driveway and they activate actions based on your preferences: the garage door opens, the lights turn on, and your oven starts preheating.
Who Is Leading the Charge?
Much of the discussion at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) centered around IoT, virtual reality, and automotive/mobility—areas where many players are pushing the envelope. But there are groundbreakers in other spaces too.
Tzoa, for example, produces a wearable device that can detect the particulate matter in the air. It can tell you if there’s pollen in the air, or how much light or UV exposure you’re receiving. It condenses all of that data into a readable format you can use to better understand your environment.
Another leader is Airo, which has created a lamp with built-in sensors and algorithms that gather and analyze data about the time of day, usage habits, and lighting requirements throughout the day and night. So if it’s a certain point of the day when the light is typically harsh, the lamp will automatically soften the light to reduce UV exposure and protect your eyes. Through the IoT, other appliances can also be integrated to operate based on your lighting habits. These devices leverage lighting data to understand the flow of your life.
Neura is another example. This company focuses on bringing IoT devices together to start talking. Whether it’s laundry appliances, alarm clocks, entertainment devices, automobiles, or smartphones, Neura is trying to figure out how to create a connected, integrated experience.
What Are We Seeing at Wearable IoT World?
We see enthusiasm, creativity, solutions and velocity growing in different industries. What’s really interesting is that we’re noticing a lot more founders and start-ups building products with a more connected vision. For many, it’s not just about build this one product and we’re done; they’re looking at how can they connect their product(s) within a city — between devices and amongst larger populations.
Part of the benefit is the effect IoT has on collaboration. Founders and leaders, companies and startups are all figuring out how to communicate better throughout the development cycle.
So, as we start to walk, what can we do with that communication? What can we bring together? What can we do that goes beyond just connecting everything? This next round of start-ups that we’re starting to see are focused on compatibility. Whether it’s at an industry, city, or even consumer level, they’re trying to figure out how to connect more and more.
Which Industry Leads the Way for Wearables?
I mentioned earlier that the automotive space is pacing the user/device connectivity race, but it’s the health and wellness industry that has taken the torch for IoT wearables.
Even in lieu of needed industry standards around data and privacy, health and wellness startups have fared well. Companies like Jawbone, Fitbit, and Misfit Wearables have taken the lead here. They collect fitness data from sensors and geo-location, and translate it to actionable steps toward addressing areas like weight loss, better sleep, and heart health.
We see a rise in using data to learn how to eat better, how to plan meals, and how to work all that around daily habits. Firms like SHOPnCHEF, SmartPlate, SmartyPan, and others who are collecting personal habits data along with food and nutrition data and pairing that together to provide a plan for eating better.
What’s next? Perhaps your doctor could have an app that says, “we’ve analyzed your data and we’ve sent a menu and grocery list to your refrigerator. Here’s what you can do to lower your risk of such and such.”
How Has IoT Changed the Digital Ecosystem Since Wearable IoT World Started?
When we began in 2013, a lot of players were trying to figure out how the wearable space would evolve. Pebble, Basis and Jawbone were all in the hunt. At that point, the main questions were:
- How do we make a wearable device that someone wants to use?
- Why would they use it?
- What’s the value?
- How can we replace the mobile phone?
- How can we not have to reach in our pocket?
We went from having a few wearable devices and a lofty idea of, maybe, a more connected world being the number one objective of almost every major corporation. Most individuals see the value in connected devices. That’s why the push toward IoT has dramatically increased over the past two and a half years. So, we went from a somewhat connected world with a few virtual reality sensors and the Internet to a variety of products and ideas that not only connect our smartphones with other devices but also connect our homes to city streetlights and our wearables to retail stores.
If you ask me in 18 months where IoT is, my reply will likely be this: : I’m seeing an entire city connected, running more efficiently and economically, with its residents starting to widely adopt, benefit and enjoy a healthy, improved quality of life.
Kyle Ellicott is Chief Labs Officer at Wearable IoT World. Wearable IoT World (WIoTW) pioneered the world’s first accelerator focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), Wearables, and emerging technologies. They serve the IoT and wearables community with advisory services, publishing services, and conference organization.