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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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