Today you can turn your iron off from an app on your phone. You can turn your central heating on at home from the office. You can turn the air conditioning on in your car before you leave for your meeting. You can do all of this because of something called the Internet of Things or IoT.
IoT is basically making everything ‘smart’ and connected to the Internet, making everything always accessible. Not only can you now get your fridge to order your food for you but if you’ve forgot what you have ran out of when you’re at the supermarket you can now see images of inside your fridge from your phone.
We’ve recently discovered a website called ‘Thingful’ (http://thingful.net) that lets you see the Internet of Things from all over the world. You can see weather stations, buoys in the sea, buses and, if you’re lucky, the odd shark that’s connected to the Internet! You are then able to follow ‘things’ and see where they end up. There’s categories as well, so you’re able to filter things like Health, Flora and Fauna, Energy and Experiments. A couple of experiments we found were a Raspberry Pi Weather Station and a Fermenting Cooler, as well as a Leaf Wetness Sensor and a Coffee Machine.
At this point in time you can’t see every single thing that is connected to the Internet on Thingful but it’s great because it suggests the direction in which the world is going. With sites like Thingful, if we have asthma we are able to see air quality monitors in areas that we may be thinking of moving to, we can check flood monitors and track animals that we care about.
Thingful suggests in their blog how they imagine things to progress: ‘someone who cycles to work might setup a notification delivered every morning, just before setting out, that would deliver the data most important to them: the realtime status of their own outdoor air quality monitor, their neighbour’s weather station, the local share bike availability, a traffic sensor halfway along the journey and the bike station slot availability at their destination.’
Do we need all of this information? Probably not and it could probably become quite distracting, however the potential for the Internet of Things can’t even be imagined yet. In the workplace things will soon change and in some cases they already are. Your computer will turn on as you enter the building. Your conference room will set up the projector with your presentation ten minutes before your meeting is due to start and it will let you know if someone else’s meeting is overrunning. Technology is changing the way we work so that we can become more productive and efficient making the possibilities for our business endless.