The "Internet of Things" (IoT) is one of the most discussed trends today, affecting virtually any industry.
IDC defines IoT as:
a network of networks of uniquely identifiable endpoints ("things"), that communicate without human interaction, using IP connectivity; but we believe that the best way to examine this trend is to look around us, and imagine what we could (and would) do if the devices around us had WiFi connectivity.
The main reason for IoT being a game-changer, is that it enables us to personalize, customize and remote-control virtually any aspect of our lives: our home atmosphere and temperature, our driving, our shopping, our workouts, our cooking, our locks and much more. Connected-product launches are paving the way for a new reality of shopping, consumption and interaction.
For the IoT trend to actually develop, there must be tangible consumer benefits, as well as data security management, to avoid data breach through connected devices which is a major (and understandable) concern of consumers.
While IoT benefits vary from industry to industry, main consumer benefits across the board include:
- Personalization - The ability to customize each device according to one’s lifestyle is a major engine for today’s consumer, including:
1. customization of home ambience via smart lighting and smart thermostats
2. personalized hotel stay with visitor-tailored mini-bars and room settings
3. personalized insurance according to one’s car driving patterns, property maintenance, lifestyle etc.
- Convenience - Faster, time saving solutions, including:
1. Remote-controlling various devices at home on-time and at-advance;
2. Servicing guests (at home and for out of home establishments) via apps;
3. Sharing and updating our social communities automatically
- Money Saving - for example:
1. Energy saving through less electricity: turning appliance on and off on demand, for minimal energy consumption;
2. Financial monitoring and reporting, for instance through connecting energy consuming appliances to the budget app
- Health & Wellness – including:
1. All-family safety through smart locks, cameras and location monitoring; connected devices can locate each family member (including pets), and provide means of communication with young children and toddlers.
2. car maintenance alerts and reminders;
3. Health monitoring and reporting: for the general population – wearable technology, fitness devices; for patients and seniors – monitoring and alerting the care taker
4. Environment – energy efficient solutions with washing machines, coffee makers, slow cookers, refrigerators and ovens – all controllable via smartphone.
In addition to smartphones and tablets, smart watches are also increasingly being used to control smart devices, and this is expected to rise further as a result of the Apple Watch launch.
Leading electrical and electronics manufacturers have already entered the IoT field, as well as other major players such as Google (with the purchase of smart thermostat company Nest) and Apple (with its HomeKit platform and collaborations such as HoneyWell). The attached presentation contains many examples for the trend, from interactive toys which enable parents to remotely talk to toddlers, through gesture-controlled lighting, to keys, locks and alarm systems. Also, there are many competitors offering platforms aimed at connecting and controlling the various connected devices that are installed, to further enhance the user’s convenience.
To sum up, there’s no question that the Internet of Things offers great personalization, socialization, and control to consumers, with the potential to enhance convenience, wellness, energy savings and other important aspects of daily life. However, for the trend to become mainstream, consumers must be persuaded that security and privacy issues are well-handled by the company.