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Hottest IoT-based Solutions Transforming the World

By | customer experience, design, IoT, omnichannel | No Comments

In today’s digitized world, everybody is going nuts about connectivity. Wearables such as smartwatches and fitness bands are no longer something rare or unique – a lot of us have and use them on a daily basis. The same situation is with remote control of home appliances, industrial assets and transportation systems. So it’s no wonder that the IoT market size is expected to grow to $457.29 billion by 2020.

The concept of connected devices or, as we now call it, the Internet of Things is not brand new – it was introduced in the early 80s. However, both – tech experts and ordinary people- are still excited to see where this all is going.

As professional designers and developers, we also keep track of the current IoT trends. In this article, we’ll try to take a look at the new solutions in this area which have a potential to become an integral part of our everyday lives in the nearest future.

Even more smart stores

It’s been only a year since Amazon opened its first no-checkout Amazon Go store to the public in Seattle. However, rumor has it that the company already plans its international expansion.  As of today, the chain contains nine smart stores located in the US but we can expect to have the first cashierless store in the U.K in the nearest future. And, according to Bloomberg, Amazon will open about 3,000 other smart supermarkets by 2021.

Shopping in Amazon Go gif
Image source: giphy.com

The idea of doing shopping by just entering the store, grabbing the groceries and leaving without being checked out still sounds futuristic to a lot of people. Yet, Amazon is not a single company that is trying to take advantage of advanced shopping technology. Microsoft is already treading on its heels.

Recently, the company announced its partnership with Kroger, a large chain of US supermarkets. And many of the innovative solutions they created are based on IoT technology. Digital shelves, personalized ads and automatic alerting store staff on low inventories are already redefining the way we think about supermarkets.

Reportedly, other retailers around the world will also have an opportunity to buy this solution. So it’s just a matter of time before the smart store like Amazon Go will become an industry standard.

Smart grocery management

Smart grocery management is another category of IoT solutions which are going to take customer shopping experience to the next level. The main idea behind them is simple yet genius. It is to make smart home products help us do grocery shopping in an easy and time-effective way.

The most famous smart device of this kind that already exists is Samsung Family Hub. Simply put, it’s a smart fridge that, among other things, can take photos of products stored in it. Users then can view such photos via their smartphones as they shop. On top of that, the fridge can mirror TV, synchronize with the calendar, share notes and messages, and even help its owners control lightning, oven, front door camera etc. remotely.

Samsung Family Hub gif
Image source: Samsung.com

Speaking about front door cameras, they’ll become smart too. At CES 2019, an IoT product called Door View Cam was announced by Ring company. The camera can be used as a regular glass peephole. But besides that, it can stream video to your smartphone and let you talk to anyone standing at your front door.

doors with Door View Cam
Image source: USA TODAY

As a side note, a smart home niche is expected to grow significantly in the nearest future (see the chart below). So it has all chances to become a gold mine for businesses that are ready to invest in new technologies.

Smart Home technology expected growth

Fairytale is coming true

Remember that episode from the fairytale about Snow White when she ask a magic mirror:  ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?’ ? Well, it no longer sounds like a fairytale because a ‘magic’ mirror can actually answer that question. A smart mirror by Capstone Connected Home was introduced at CES 2019 and it’s expected to be released later this year.

a girl in front of  a smart mirror
Image source: Capstone Connected Home

As you may see, at first glance, this smart mirror looks like a regular mirror and can be used as such, for example, during your bathroom routine. But besides being just a mirror, this gadget also has  Google Assistant built in, so it can practically do all the things the latter does. For instance, you can check the emails while brushing your teeth, access social media, stream YouTube videos or even play games.

Another cool thing about Capstone Smart Mirror is that you’ll still be able to see yourself through the content shown on the mirror ‘screen’, so it’s not just like a huge tablet. We believe that the idea behind such device is indeed promising and smart mirrors will make our mornings more pleasant and productive already in the nearest future.

Healthcare of the future

Unlike the previous two types of IoT solutions which are aimed at making our lives easier, Internet of Healthcare Things (or IoHT) also helps people feel better or can even save lives.

There is indeed an endless list of ways of how this technology may be implemented in practice. For instance, there are solutions that gather information about the patient’s health and send a notification to a doctor if something goes wrong. Other apps help monitor user’s medication schedules, activities and sleep cycles. Some IoT devices can also automatically identify any glitches in medical hardware so they can be fixed in a timely manner.

E-Alert by Philips is a great example of the latter type of IoHT solution. This tool measures key parameters of magnetic resonance imaging and alerts if something in the system doesn’t work properly.

e-Alert by Philips chart
Image source: philips.com.au

Besides, there are also IoT devices that help doctors train without the risk of doing any harm to real patients. For instance, Osso VR is a training gadget for surgeons that combines IoT and VR technologies and allows doctors to perform realistic operations in a risk-free virtual reality space. A product was released a few years ago but it still actively discussed on different professional platforms such as this year’s CES conference.

a surgeon using OSSO VR
Image source: Osso VR

Although some smart medical devices already exist, even more of them are expected to be developed soon. And the IoT technology is versatile and flexible enough to satisfy the needs of any medical organization or hospital.

Pets will live better too

Human beings are not the only creatures who can benefit from innovative solutions. With the help of IoT technology, the life of our four-legged friends can be more pleasant and safer as well.

Different pet trackers that utilize GPS technology appeared a few years ago and have already won the hearts of animal owners. A small sensor can be attached to a pets’ collars or embedded into it, so the location of a cat or dog can be easily tracked via smartphone.

But caring for pets doesn’t mean just not letting them get lost. People often treat their cats, dogs, hamsters, parrots etc. as family members. That’s why they are ready to pay for pet care products that will make them happier. One of the most innovative solutions in this regard is a smart bed such as Petrics Smart Pet Bed introduced at CES 2018. Besides controlling the key health parameters (weight, sleep time etc.), it allows for the remote thermostatic control to maintain the temperature that is optimal for a specific breed.

Dog on Petrics Smart Pet Bed

Another popular IoT product that has the potential to become a must-have for any pet parent is a smart feeder. The devices of this kind let remotely control feed supply for cats and dogs (portion sizes, feeding schedule etc.). They may also have a camera to enable constant monitoring of a pet.

Cat eating from smart feeder
Image source: HomeCrux

It’s worth mentioning that quite a few smart feeders have already been created. Yet, the niche is ever-growing so there is always a room for new pet-caring products with more advanced features.

Hyperconnected business

One can hardly find a business that will not benefit from IoT-fueled solutions. Because no matter what exactly your company produces and sells. There are always the processes that can be automated and done better or faster.

As of today, a lot of businesses especially in the manufacturing industry are successfully harnessing IoT technology. For instance, at the Siemens plants located in Germany, the production process is 75 percent handled by machines. The figure is quite significant but it’s planned to move even further and create a smart plant that will be fully (i.e. 100 percent) automated.

And Siemens is not alone with its intentions. According to Juniper Research, the number of industrial IoT connections is going to grow to 46 billion in the next four years. This means that all businesses must consider investing in IoT solutions to stay competitive.

Conclusion

Nowadays, many IoT solutions may seem revolutionary or even unbelievable to us. But we have to get used to the thought that, in a few years, most of the aspects of our lives will include devices powered by the Internet of Things. So if you have a brilliant idea of an IoT-based product that will either allow people to handle their routine tasks more easily or help you optimize your business activity, it’s a high time to turn it into reality.

Looking for a development team for your next IoT project? Just contact us!



What You Should Know About Internet of Things

By | design, IoT, user experience | No Comments

The “Internet of Things” (IoT) is the addition of internet connectivity and other sensors to physical objects. Broadband Internet becomes more widely available, the cost of connecting is decreasing, and more devices are being created with built-in network adapters. This movement creates a “perfect storm” for the IoT. That’s why IoT begins to move from ‘next big thing’ to something more and more of us are living with and it’s going to grow even more in coming years and eventually, most of us will use IoT technologies.

Gartner forecasts 21 billion connected things by 2020. That’s approximately four devices for every human being on the planet.

By 2020, more than half of major new business processes and systems will incorporate some element of the IoT. And we, as designers, should be ready for this moment. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about the increasingly connected world.

Where Can We Find IoT?

IoT isn’t just one group of devices, the term is used for a big range of connected tools, devices, and services. Technologies are infiltrating the everyday life and things around us are becoming smarter. Common categories of IoT today include:

  • Connected home technology (these are products and services that make home life easier or more pleasant, such as smart thermostats, lighting, and energy monitoring)
  • Nest smart thermostat
    Nest smart thermostat
  • Wearables (such as activity/fitness trackers and smartwatches)
  • Apple watch
    Apple Watch
  • Connected cars
  • Tesla Model S embedded system
    Tesla embedded system
  • Urban systems (such as city rental bikes and parking meters/sensors)
  • Citibike in New York
    Citibike in New York

On a broader scale, the IoT can be used to create “smart cities” which can help us reduce waste and improve efficiency for our environments (e.g. energy use). Take a look at the visual below to see what something like that can look like.
Smart cities

5 Principles To Remember When Designing for IoT

Design is the critical component that bridges IoT technology’s potential with meeting real human needs. And it’s not surprise that IoT is a hot topic for designers today – it opens the door to a lot of opportunities but also to many challenges. While there are a huge array of things to consider while developing a IoT product, you’ll be more likely to gain traction if you keep following 5 principles in mind:

1. Design IoT Only If It Enhance User Experience

Just because something can be connected to the internet doesn’t mean it should be. IoT design requires a sharp focus on user needs because IOT products succeed only when they solve real problems and make users’ lives easier. Thus, if you want to connect something to the internet, you should have a clear answer on the question “Why do I want to do it?” User research should be a critical early step in any solid IoT UX project. Using insights gained from your research can help you explore the interaction contexts well before your team is burning hours designing or developing.

Making the ‘thing’ an IoT make sense only if it solves a real problem for the user. If connecting a product to the internet doesn’t enhance the experience, then don’t do it.

2. Create Good Onboarding

In the world of IoT getting your users up and running isn’t as simple as in a world of web or mobile apps. In addition to account creation, IoT devices usually require a proper configuration. Without a good onboarding experience, the setup phase might be really hard for the first-time users and there is a great possibility of user frustration or failure. That’s successful IoT product (like Nest) have set a relatively high bar for onboarding.

3. Prevent Glitching

Everyone experience occasional glitches in digital products. One common example is slow loading time on websites. Of course, it’s definitely frustrating when loading takes ages, but we are used to this. By contrast, we won’t expect real-world objects respond to us with glitches. When we turn off the lights in our room, we expect an immediate response. However, when we interact with a physical device over the internet (e.g. smart lighting system), that interaction might have the same latency issues as the website. So there’s the potential for delays in response. This could make the real world start to feel broken. Just imagine if you turned your lights off and they took two minutes to respond or failed to come on at all. As a designer, you should prevent all possible situations that can lead to glitch.

4. Make Sure It Works Locally

When designing for IoT, don’t assume always-on internet connectivity. In real life, IoT devices are often intermittently connected. Thus, it’s good to design for no internet connectivity at first, and see how much functionality can be done locally. Also, UX designers have to ensure that important functions (e.g. home security alarms for IoT Smart home system) continue to work properly when some devices go offline.

5. Design For Security and Data Privacy From the Outset

Security is a big issue. Recent high-profile hacks have raised the spectre of IoT-related security risks. More and more users are examining IoT devices for information about security. These consumers may be increasingly cautious about exposing personal information, especially when it is connected to physical spaces (such a local Wifi network) in their homes. Users might have questions like “Will someone be able to hack into my fridge and thereby get access to my entire network?” It’s your job, as a designer, to alleviate such fears. Always help users understand the security of your service by providing this information upfront.

Conclusion

A new generation of IoT is going to enhance our lives dramatically. We will spend less time on monotonous, boring tasks and will have more time to do what’s really important – like spending more time with our family or friends. I really hope the principles mentioned above help get your IoT effort aimed in the right direction.