You’ve likely heard the term “Internet of Things” at some point from a colleague, an article, or an advertisement. But the term is broad and can cover an overwhelming amount of information.
Imagine the world where everything in our lives is connected to the internet and each other, from smartphones and computers to our home’s lights, windows, thermostats, water system and more. The world where all of these devices can be in constant communication and controlled by users remotely via voice command or the simple push of a button. With the rapid growth of the internet of things (IoT), this level of home automation has become a reality.
To help clarify how the Internet of Things works, we’ve laid out some applications for the IoT, along with some specific devices and examples.
Applications Of The Internet Of Things
Smart Home: The smart home is likely the most popular IoT application at the moment because it is the one that is most affordable and readily available to consumers. From the Amazon Echo to the Nest Thermostat, there are hundreds of products on the market that users can control with their voices to make their lives more connected than ever.
Wearables: Watches are no longer just for telling time. The Apple Watch and other smartwatches on the market have turned our wrists into smartphone holsters by enabling text messaging, phone calls, and more. And devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone have helped revolutionize the fitness world by giving people more data about their workouts.
Smart Cities: The IoT has the potential to transform entire cities by solving real problems citizens face each day. With the proper connections and data, the Internet of Things can solve traffic congestion issues and reduce noise, crime, and pollution.
Connected Car: These vehicles are equipped with Internet access and can share that access with others, just like connecting to a wireless network in a home or office. More vehicles are starting to come equipped with this functionality, so prepare to see more apps included in future cars.
Internet of Things Devices & Examples
Amazon Echo – Smart Home: The Amazon Echo works through its voice assistant, Alexa, which users can talk to in order to perform a variety of functions. Users can tell Alexa to play music, provide a weather report, get sports scores, order an Uber, and more.
Fitbit One – Wearables: The Fitbit One tracks your steps, floors climbed, calories burned, and sleep quality. The device also wirelessly syncs with computers and smartphones in order to transmit your fitness data in understandable charts to monitor your progress.
Barcelona – Smart Cities: The Spanish city is one of the foremost smart cities in the world after it implemented several IoT initiatives that have helped enhance smart parking and the environment.
AT&T – Connected Car: AT&T added 1.3 million cars to its network in the second quarter of 2016, bringing the total number of cars it connects to 9.5 million. Drivers don’t have to subscribe or pay a monthly fee for data in order for AT&T to count them as subscribers.
How IoT & smart home automation will change the way we live
The Internet of Things is set to disrupt the way we live and work, but for now, let’s focus on the “live” portion of that statement.
Smart homes filled with connected products are loaded with possibilities to make our lives easier, more convenient, and more comfortable. Imagine that you’re driving home on a hot summer day. But rather than turning the air conditioner on when you get home and wait for your house to cool, you simply use your smartphone when you leave your office to tell your smart thermostat to lower the temperature.
Or imagine that you’re cooking dinner, and you ask Alexa, the voice assistant on the Amazon Echo, to read you today’s biggest news stories so that you can focus on chopping those vegetables.
There is no shortage of possibilities for smart home IoT devices, and home automation seems to be the wave of the future. Below, we’ve compiled a detailed guide on how the IoT and house automation will change our way of life.
Smart Buildings and Smart Homes
The number of smart home devices shipped will grow from 83 million in 2015 to 193 million in 2020. This includes all smart appliances (washers, dryers, refrigerators, etc.), smart home safety and security systems (sensors, monitors, cameras, and alarm systems), and smart home energy equipment, like smart thermostats and smart lighting.
The first and most obvious benefit to smart homes is a convenience, as more connected devices can handle more operations (lighting, temperature, etc.) and free up the resident to perform other tasks.
But beyond this, smart home IoT devices can help reduce costs and conserve energy. In our example above, you’d have a comfortable and cool apartment when you get home, but you could also leave your air conditioner off when you’re not home, which would lower your electric bill and reduce energy consumption. Smart lights would function in a similar way.
Of course, there are disadvantages, as well. Smart home devices are typically more expensive than their non-connected counterparts, so consumers would certainly feel the hit in their wallets at first.
Consider than connected LED bulbs cost $15 on average, compared to $8 for nonconnected LED bulbs. However, the cost of these connected bulbs has dropped in the last two years, so the prices of smart home IoT devices could decline even further and make them more affordable to the average consumer.
Smart House IoT Devices
Several stellar smart home IoT devices have already hit the market and made their way into thousands of houses around the world.
Amazon Echo, arguably the first and most recognizable name in this space. The device functions as a central hub for your other smart home gadgets, and its voice-activated assistant, Alexa, provides the convenience that few other products can match. Amazon also offers two sister products, the Tap and the Dot.
Nest, one of the more famous smart home device manufacturers, has created a Learning Thermostat that can automatically adjust the temperature based on your location and uses a far-field sensor to determine the time and temperature from a distance. And thanks to a recent update, it now works with Alexa, too.
The August Smart Lock provides enhanced security for the home, is easy to install, and works with Siri through the Apple HomeKit.
And for smart bulbs, there’s the Lifx Color 1000, which can change color as necessary, and the Philips Hue Wireless Dimming Kit for your white-light needs.