When speaking about the internet of things, objects such as SmartTVs and cars often come to mind, but how far can we take these concepts and apply them to everyday items and tasks. Read below to find out how far researchers and companies have already connected different objects.
For any budding horticulturalist, it’s always a disaster when you forget to water the plants, or you do not know whether the flowers you just bought need to be in the shade or the sun?
Researchers at the University of Southern California, placed a robotic arm in a flower bed and then connected it to the internet. This allowed users from around the world to use the arm to plant seeds, water plants and get real time data about how their plants were growing.
While being able to garden from indoors, might slightly miss the point of why people like gardening, the large scale use for agriculture could be a massive boon to society.
As people begin to work more flexible hours and travel more often, looking after our beloved pets becomes harder and harder. To tackle this issue, PetTrax has released the RightBite, a food dispenser for pets that can be controlled from your smartphone. With a draw that opens and closes based on food levels and time, this device manages your pet’s diet while you are away.
The device even has a feature to communicate with your pet’s microchip, and only open when your pet walks over, making sure you aren’t feeding any other unwanted guests.
Companies such as Lechal have taken a different approach and see the internet of things as a way to augment people through wearable technology. Imagine if your shoes could simply tell you which way you needed to go, rather than you having to stare at your smartphone screen.
Thus the haptic insole was born, a discrete pair of insoles which can be tucked into any ordinary shoe and they connect to the internet and GPS systems through a mobile app. Once you have put in your desired destination, the insoles use slight vibrations to guide you there. The app also allows you to count calories, steps and even create custom workouts.
Where this technology becomes truly revolutionary, however, is by providing a way for the blind to navigate new routes and aid them in everyday tasks. In fact Lechal has already promised to subsidize all commercial sales of the product, so that the technology is affordable to those in need.
As any parent will tell you, getting children to brush their teeth can be a challenge. But imagine if toothbrushes turned into a game once the brushing commenced. Oral-B have developed a bluetooth enabled brush that connects to an app which maps your teeth and colour codes them depending on how well you have brushed them, and pressure sensors even warn about getting over enthusiastic.
Even the ground you walk on can be connected to the internet, Spanish based Via Inteligente has developed paving that act as WiFi hubs, guaranteeing pedestrians throughout the city internet access.
The applications for local government and town planning are immense. Sensors can detect footfall and where people tend to cross the road, meaning that routes can be optimised and zebra crossings can be placed in the perfect spots.
City cleaning services will be able to see where litter is building up, allowing crews to target the dirtiest areas. Furthermore, planners could then understand the best spots to place bins. This sort of technology could potentially revolutionise urban areas with futureproof planning.
Check back next week for part two! Where you’ll see more examples of other applications for the Internet of Things!
Dominic Whaley, Digital Content Specialist based at K2 Partnering Solutions HQ in London.