The Internet of Things Comes to Life at #Gilbane

Dec 04, 2013

The Internet of Things is already here, though we aren't all plugged in just yet. But in the "Have You Talked to Your Refrigerator Today?" session at the Gilbane Conference in Boston, attendees were treated to a plethora of fun -- and mostly useful -- examples of the way the Internet of Things is coming to life.

Take the Nest thermostat for instance: You simply use it just like you would a normal thermostat -- though you can also control it from your smartphone -- and it learns your patterns. Rather than using a "programmable thermostat" you can use Nest which automatically learns your habits, and adjusts accordingly. The FitBit is popping up on wrists across the globe, keeping track of the wearers' level of activity, sleep habits, and more.

One example stood out from a content point of view: the iBeacon communicates with nearby iPhones and can be programmed to transmit a variety of microlocation-based information. For example, a retailor can send you special prices on the sweater you're standing next to and admiring while in their store. However, my favorite use case came from a coffee shop that used iBeacon to bestow temporary digital subscriptions to newspapers and magazines on their customers.

Privacy advocates will, no doubt, fear the amount of personal data the Internet of Things will collect. But as these devices continue to provide increased value and convenience to users, adoption rates will continue to climb. Despite the burgeoning technology, the Internet Things isn't a utopia just yet. The devices can't quite speak to each other yet -- especially across brands -- says, Adam Buhler, VP of creative technology/labs/mobile at Digitas. So your Whirlpool washing machine can't talk to your LG dryer, which poses a usability problem. And it may be years before the battle over which standard will win out is settled.