I’ve written a number of blogs about the future potential for the Internet of Things. But there are a number of devices on the market now that make the first steps of the IoT a reality today. I look at these devices and the approaches they are taking to the word of connected things to be the precursor to where we are headed over the next few decades.
SmartThings. SmartThings are selling a box of smart sensors that you can use for functions today like home security and energy management. But they also provide a developer kit for those who want to program custom applications and there is a huge range of possible functions for the system. One would thing that soon that custom apps will begin appearing on the web allowing you to do cool things without having to be a coder.
MobiPlug. Mobiplug is a start-up that promises to be able to integrate all of your wireless devices regardless of the platform or wireless protocol used. It’s most unique feature is that it makes your smart phone the hub device. Most other platforms supply a separate box as a hub and I am just picturing a closet full of old hubs one day in the same way that I gathered a pile if WiFi routers. Most IoT systems allow your smart phone to control settings, so why not just make it the hub too?
FitBit. By now you have probably seen your Facebook friends with the annoying posts showing how fast and where they ran today, brought to you by FitBit. But FitBit has it in their sights to become a lot more than just a training aid and monitor and they are hoping to evolve their system into everything fitness and health related in your life. FitBit is already storing data on you that can become the future basis for a heath monitoring system.
AllJoyn. AllJoyn is not a device, but rather a platform of software being created by Qualcomm. They are taking a very different approach to the IoT and developing a platform that will work independently of the Internet. This has some basic merit in that many of the other platforms store at least some of the central core in the cloud and be non-functional during an Internet outage. But it also is a bold step in separating our IoT data from the general internet for privacy reasons. Do you really want your medical monitor data or security system to be hackable?
Evrythng. This company is looking at a totally different aspect of the IoT, in how you interact with your devices and with the outside world. Evrythng is a software platform that will let you more dynamically interface with your IoT devices in a Facebook-type of platform. However, one aspect of this system is that your devices can ‘suggest’ additional purchases to you and this platform brings advertising into your life and your smart fridge might be suggesting what you should purchase to create a recipe with what you already have stored inside.
Electric Imp. And let us not forget the geeks among us who want a fully customized IoT. Electric Imp has developed a SD Card-sized WiFi node that can then be used with any device. A user can program it to do anything they wish. And the cards are swappable because the programming is stored in the cloud. Think of this as the never-ending coding party that lets you program your toaster to perform amazing feats.
Freescale. This is still under development, but Freescale is looking at swallowable monitors for inside of the body. Nobody is entirely sure yet just what this is going to be looking at, but the guess is that this will be partnered with some other system such as FitBit as additional health monitors. Probably one of the most promising long-term use of the IoT is in-blood monitors that will head you off from being sick from the first signs of an infection and stopping pre-cancerous cells before they get started. This technology has to start somewhere and hopefully this is the first step.