IoT you don’t realise you already use!
As a new transplant to Sweden I decided to rent a car and take a short road trip through Västergötland and Bohuslan. While I was driving, my car started beeping at random times. I realised it was a warning either that the speed limit was going to change or that there was a traffic camera within 500 meters. Besides being extremely helpful (especially for someone who can’t judge kilometres-per-hour yet) it also worked when I crossed the border into Norway. It was a perfect example of the Internet of Things that I was using without even thinking about it.
So many IoT articles are about new releases or future technology. But after the amazing experience in the car rental, I started collecting IoT technology that we use in everyday life that we don’t even think about.
In many cars, you get a notification that your air pressure is low in the tires. This is almost commonplace but we never think of it as IoT. In the past, tires (and almost every other part of a car) were independently monitored. You could only check tire air pressure with a gauge or, in my case, by kicking the tire. That notification technically classifies as IoT even though it was invented before the term ‘Internet of Things’ was ever coined because it’s connecting two previously unconnected products (the tires and the dashboard display in your car).
Smart Homes, systems that alter the temperature, lights, and security from your phone or tablet, are another IoT development that gets a lot of press, but it is definitely a new and, as yet, uncommon phenomenon. Back to cars, the ability for an automobile to signal an emergency if the driver is in a crash or the car breaks down is another IoT technology that is in common usage without people thinking about the amazing ability.
I once drove across the Dominican Republic (I like road trips) and my car broke down in a tiny village eight ours outside of the capital of Santo Domingo. I had 18 hours to get back to catch my flight and had no phone or internet access. Previously, I would’ve had to hike to the next village over or wait for a kind passerby to help out. But with the alert system, my car sent data to the rent-a-car company and they drove a new car to me from another station within two hours.
Vending machines are another place that people don’t realise are utilising IoT every day. Many vending machines (especially those in Sweden that take credit cards) are equipped with inventory monitoring systems to notify their owners when they’re out of Haribo Goldbären (my favourite candy by far).
Checking the weather on your phone (possibly a national pastime in Sweden) can also be considered IoT. information comes in from a Doppler radar or satellite and is collated and made available to your phone. We don’t typically think of this as IoT because again, it was invented before ‘IoT’ was described, but also because we think of it as an ‘app.’ But many apps have their basis in IoT. If two or more things are communicating (that hadn’t in the past) then IoT might be at work. Playing Candy Crush isn’t IoT, but playing a song from Spotify on your phone wirelessly to your speakers (via Bluetooth) is IoT.
(By the way, I specifically chose those examples because Candy Crush, Spotify, and Bluetooth are all Swedish creations.)
The point I’m trying to make is that the Internet of Things isn’t a heady concept, floating somewhere out there in digital space – we actually use it every day. So when you read it and think, “Ah whatever, IoT is just another fancy tech-buzzword that I don’t understand!” – just remember that you’re probably utilising IoT already.