Welcome back for Part 2 (Part 1 here) of our exploration through the Internet of Things, where you will see how everything from our clothes to cows can be connected:
Agriculture is sometimes wrongly assumed as being behind the times when it comes to technology. Dutch startup Sparked, however, has connected a cattle herd to the internet using sensors in the cows’ ears. These sensors can track movements, diet and most importantly can instantly alert the farmer when an animal is sick or pregnant. Incredibly each cow is generating 200MB of data annually!
Not only does this mean that farmers save time by avoiding manually inspection of their charges, but also helps improve the animals’ quality of life by turning the farmer into a digital Dr. Doolittle able to understand how his or her cattle are feeling day to day.
So we’ve already talked about how your shoes can navigate, but what about your clothing? Global whiskey brand Ballantine have created TShirtOS, the world’s first programmable t-shirt. Micro LED lights and a power pack are seamlessly woven into the cotton, using a bluetooth connection to your phone you can change images and patterns on the fly.
TShirtOS can display any message or image within the limits of the LEDs turning your torso into a disco ball. The lights are surprisingly bright as well, and even in direct sunlight are still extremely eye catching. Further down the line, this technology could continue to develop as power sources and bluetooth connectors become smaller, the ability to create more and more complex patterns could emerge.
One potential usage, other than looking like an extra out of Tron, could be a way for cyclists to turn their clothing into a high visibility jacket with dynamic indicators. Connected clothing could actually serve an important purpose in road safety, rather than simply being a flashy novelty. Still, the technology is in its infancy, with the TShirtOS being in the prototype stage at present.
Startup 24eight decided to take the internet of things in a completely different direction, childcare. In particular the dreaded nappy change, unnoticeable micro sensors embedded within the nappy itself will send out a text alert if there is an accident, to the lucky recipient.
According to the Wall Street Journal these data driven diapers only cost two cents more than any normal brand and the company is hoping to roll them out globally soon.
Ever wanted to get the weather report and eat it after? Well now you can, bizarrely. Introducing the Toasteroid, a toaster connected to your smart phone that can, well, toast messages into your breakfast.
But there’s more, if one of your friends has a talking toaster, you can send messages to each other through the subtle medium of sliced bread!
We have discussed wearable technology, but what if you hosted it internally? Cyborgs, are a classic staple of sci-fi movies, but with the internet of things our bodies themselves could be the final frontier. While to many the idea maybe unsettling there are already some very real medical benefits. Some patients are already using pacemakers which are connected through the internet to their doctor’s computer providing real-time data and monitoring.
However, some are taking this even further, with Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology allowing them to use their own hand to make contactless payments, swipe through security doors and store data. The chip, no bigger than a grain of rice can be simply injected between the fingers and then devices can be configured to it. Some people have already undergone the transformation, but the technology is still fairly basic at the moment.
More incredible uses have been proposed, ranging from micro cameras implanted in the eye (ala Black Mirror) to record day to day life, to LED lights being implanted under the skin as a digital moving tattoo. The internet of things could eventually change the human body so much, that we could be questioning what it means to be human.
Overall the internet of things is becoming a bigger and bigger part of our lives, while some of these uses may be seem bizarre or unnecessary, who knows what unexpected benefits might arise? Who knows, maybe you are already reading this article on a slice of toast?
Dominic Whaley, Digital Content Specialist based at K2 Partnering Solutions HQ in London.