IoT Technologies Need to Become Invisible

IoT Technologies Need to Become Invisible
We’ve seen what happened when Google launched Google Glass; anyone wearing them became a social pariah and was called a “glasshole”. Snap has been clever to make their version very visible and over-the-top. But the market is niche, just like Google Glasses. Then there’s all the devices you can connect in your home; thermostats, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, lightbulbs, door locks, cameras and so on…it’s a lot of “things” and it’s all very much in the way.
Technologies That Become Invisible Are Interesting
The telephone is what you might call invisible. We carry them with us on our portable computers (smartphone.) We know instinctively how to use them from a very early age. A fridge and a stove are invisible. The printing press is not something we think about, but almost every day we come into contact with a book, magazine, brochure, newspaper.
Are There Too Many Things Right Now?
I’m a big fan of IoT devices myself, but then my work and passion is studying the intersection of people with technology. So I have a Nest, a couple of Phillip’s Hue lightbulbs and some sort of Sonos magic. But they are all highly visible, not in the visual sense, but in that they need paying attention to. Individually, via my iPhone or iPad or manually. And this is the thing…the things need a fair degree of intervention.
It Takes Time to Integrate Technology In Our Home
The first radios and TV’s were quite large. We needed to change lifestyles and routines to figure where they would go. Then along came the PC, they were quite large and furniture makers did quite well making new desks and chairs. Families had to sort out where to put a PC. Now we have smartphones and tablets and laptops/netbooks. These devices are becoming invisible and no longer require a specific place and that is important to what’s coming next.
An interesting new product is from a startup called Lightform, that can turn your entire room into a screen with a device that doesn’t even look like a computer. You can interact with other connected devices in the home. Microsoft is doing some work in this area as well.
When these devices connect easier and can disappear into the background, they’ll be adopted much faster. One challenge for now is that it’s incredibly easy and low cost to make an IoT device.
What are your thoughts?

Are VR & AR Margin Technologies?

Are VR & AR Margin Technologies?

Virtual Reality launched into the stratosphere of hype in late 2015 through early 2016. Sony made much fanfare as did Facebook with its investments into the world of VR, although no one can seem to point out exactly why. Now VR is suffering some dizziness as people get ill after extended use. Augmented Reality sort of sparked and popped a few years ago…and sputtered along in the fringe of tech as a marketing wow tool. Google Glass didn’t do AR any favours either. Then along came Pokemon Go and AR had its biggest boost in years, except no one really talked about the AR that made it al possible. These two technologies have been percolating in the tech world for a few years now with occasional bursts of pundit-driven hype.

Why Does Augmented Reality Struggle?
It’s not an easy question to answer. The first push of AR technology into the real-world was Google Glass. Its adherents were promptly labelled “Glassholes” and shortly thereafter, Google Glass became marginalized. Other companies tried to jump on the AR bandwagon with glasses, all remain in that delicate life and death balance on the thin rim of bleeding edge technology. Based on my 25+ years on the front lines of technology, AR just isn’t seen by the consumer market as a “need” or really even a “want” as it doesn’t have a strong value proposition.

Is There a Market for AR?
Yes, very much so. In fact, there is some very real, very profitable opportunities for the use of AR. Most of these rest within the manufacturing, healthcare, law enforcement and similar industries. Police could use AR glasses to collect evidence and show information. Mechanics can use AR glasses to overlay instructions for machinery when working on repairs. AR is very useful, but probably not in the consumer market for sometime. It needs social acceptability which isn’t there yet.

Why Does Virtual Reality Struggle?
No one wants to walk down the high street with a massive object on their face. That’s obvious. For the most part, these devices are large, clunky and uncomfortable over long periods of time. Then there’s the whole spatial sickness thing (although that problem is being solved.) VR struggles because consumers perceive it to be only useful for video games. Because that’s who’s largely using it.

Is There a Market for VR?
Just like AR, there is some great market potential for VR. Training for police and military, surgery, emergency responders, nurses…VR can be an excellent training product. It may help in explorations as well. But broader consumer adoption that sees lower price points and massive volumes is, I think, a few years away yet.

Summary
Both AR and VR are excellent, nascent technologies. But they will remain niche applications for sometime. Consumers are only just beginning to realize the power and potential of SmartPhones and right now, that is the dominant tool to most consumers and professionals. Yes, VR can be adapted to use with SmartPhones, but it’s clunky at best. AR is inherently available through SmartPhones as well and that may be how they slowly gain acceptance.

What are your thoughts?

The Internet of Animals

The Internet of Animals
It may sound udderly ridiculous, but far from it. There’s already a sensor that dairy farmers can put in their cows’ bellies. It monitors acidity levels among other factors and can notify a farmer if there are potential issues such as infection. Then there’s the SmartBell for cows, it tracks movement in the fields to assist with yield management.
The Connected Farm
Farmers already use drones, GPS data and other tools to monitor crops and conditions. Then there are all the software companies dashing about to make farm management software tools that bring all this together. Farms will be moving much of their data to the cloud. This will mean Big Data for agriculture and it’s already underway. One cool technology is Planet Labs which makes tiny satellite cubes just a few centimetres across with powerful cameras to monitor agricultural areas.
The Sensorfication of Farm Animals
It’s not just cows. This type of sensor implanted into farm animals can be pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep, you name it. Sensors are becoming cheaper than ever and communications tools such as RFID make reading the signals much easier. Expect to see more innovations in this area.
Big Farms, Big Data, Big Money
We may well benefit in a number of ways from the Internet of Animals. Understanding breeding habits, water and feed consumption we can reduce waste and improve diets. Water stress is a growing issue, we need ways to better manage water resources.
While all this may not make for cute farm animal videos on YouTube and Facebook, it’s a quickly growing sector of the agricultural industry. It’s also an example of an old sector seeing new forms of job creation bringing added economic value to the agricultural sector.
Just don’t freak when you fund a sensor embedded in that BBQ steak this summer.
What do you think?