Is The Internet of Things (IoT) the next big tech revolution?

July 23rd, 2014

How can you make the most of this latest technology? Could you make real money from it?

Imagine a world where your refrigerator lets you know when you run out of milk and gives you feedback on a device, such as a smart phone, and adds this to your shopping list. A pillbox that reminds you to take your medication at regular intervals and contacts your doctor once you are running low on your prescription. Or a fitness wristband that gives you updates on your health via your Smartphone using a combination of sensors.

The Internet of Things refers to a network of any natural or man-made objects that can be assigned to an IP address providing the ability to transfer data over a network using technologies such as RFID (Radio-frequency identification), short-range wireless communications, real-time localization, and sensor networks. It is now possible for individuals’ inventors to use this technology because:

  1. Low cost sensors are widely available, they can be programmed to sense the environment and share that information on the internet such as location of items, their temperatures and so on.
  2. New Internet protocol, IPv6, has massively increased the numbers of IP addresses, allowing any objects to be connected over the internet.

There are two primary uses of the IoT:

  1. Monitoring connected objects transferring data in real time to you. An example of this is the Smart wine cellar of Vint Cerf (the inventor of the original Internet Protocol). It makes sure bottles don’t get lost and alert him if the cellar gets too hot.
  2. The connected object will go beyond monitoring (not just alerting you), it will connect directly to another machine. It will become more autonomous and intelligent. This is referred to Machine to Machine (M2M), like a traffic light system that automatically respond to traffic jams directing cars away from the troubled areas

The applications for the IoT are vast:

  • In your home, monitoring any appliances or objects to alert you if they need repairing, replacing or any other data you might find useful.
  • For people & animals, monitoring in real time your baby’s temperature, breathing, making sure that an elderly person takes a pill on time etc.
  • In cities, such as smart lighting that adjust to seasons and time changes resulting in reduction of costs and energy
  • In Industries, for quality control and employee’s management, like sensors installed inside equipment that will monitor if any parts have exceeded their designed threshold and will automatically send reports to owners.
  • For the environment, to monitor climate changes flooding, pollution etc.

We are at an early stage of the IoT .Venture capitalist sees the Internet of Things as a huge opportunity. Could you take advantage of this new technology? Could your invention become a connected object and improve our day to day life?  This is an opportunity to revisit past ideas and adapt them. Innovate Product Design has experience working on a wide range of products and connected objects or those linked with Smart Phone applications and we are on hand to answer any questions that you may have.

By Barbara