If you’ve seen or heard of home thermostats or door locks that you can control with your smartphone, you’ve seen some IoT (Internet of Things) devices at work. These kinds of devices are collectively referred to as the Internet of Things—everyday objects that connect to each other and the internet. The goal of IoT is to create smarter, more efficient user experiences.
IoT at Home
Every day, it seems there’s another cool gadget you can add to your home. You can get light bulbs and light switches that can be programmed to a schedule, smart home kits that have sensors to monitor for water leaks, and smoke detectors that automatically notify emergency services. You can cook your dinner in a Wi-Fi controlled Crock-Pot.
Recently, we’ve also seen Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, and other similar products come on the market. These devices let you speak commands that can perform a variety of actions, such as playing a specific song, adding an item to your grocery list, providing movie listings, calling for an Uber, and much more.
You may have also seen wearables like the Apple Watch or any number of Fitbit models. These devices collect a variety of data including number of steps and sleep quality. Some of these wearable devices can also function as an extension of a smartphone—receiving texts, notifying you of phone calls, and so forth. With the right tools, wearables can help trigger other IoT devices. For example, you could create a trigger that turns your lights on when your wearable or smartphone comes within a certain distance from your home.
These are just a few examples of how we are already using IoT at home. Let’s take a look at how businesses are using IoT.
IoT in Business
Many businesses are leveraging the power of IoT in a lot of creative ways. For example, Microsoft keeps track of how its features are used, so that it can focus its efforts on improving the ones that are most often used—and removing those that aren’t very popular.
Rolls-Royce’s industrial engines have hundreds of sensors that record zillions of details about the engines’ operation. They’re programmed to report unusual data to engineers who can determine whether the engine needs maintenance. Scheduled maintenance is helpful, but it may not always be necessary. With IoT, the sensors send notifications when maintenance is actually required—which can save time and money.
Self-driving vehicles are also something we’ll probably see more of going forward. From Waymo, the Google self-driving car initiative, to Amazon Prime Air drone delivery, to devices placed in soil at a farm that help track acidity and other variables that can improve crop yields, IoT is everywhere.
IoT and Ergonomics
Since IoT is relatively new, we haven’t seen much on the ergonomics front yet. But just like every other industry, IoT has the capability to transform ergonomics as well. Based on the types of IoT already available, it’s probably possible to have a Fitbit notify your height-adjustable standing desk that you are approaching it, causing it to move to your personalized preset and set the desk lighting the way you like it.
As of today, Uncaged Ergonomics’ Rise Up electric adjustable height standing desk has an anti-collision sensor that will prevent the adjustable height sit-to-stand desk from crashing into a windowsill, nearby furniture, or even pets and kids while it is adjusting. Perhaps someday through IoT, it will buzz your wearable on your wrist as well.
Or maybe someday soon, your car with memory seating will automatically adjust to your settings when it senses your smartphone or wearable approaching along with unlocking the doors, starting the engine, and setting the environmental controls to the temperature you prefer. The possibilities of IoT are endless, and we’re still in the early stages.