When we think about the Internet, we think in terms of looking things up or making purchases on the web. But the future of the Internet is in our everyday-life objects. There are already between 9 and 12 billion connected objects and that number is project to grow to between 30 and 50 billion by 2020. Those connected (or smart) objects usually have a RFID microchip relayed to a smartphone application via Bluetooth. It’s going to be the big digital trend in 2014 and beyond.
The most popular connected objects are fitness trackers. We all know the connected bracelets such as Nike Fuelband that track our physical activity. Now brands are extending the technology to other objects—and in 10 years, almost everything will be connected. Here are a few leaders in the connected-object space.
- Sensoria, the fitness-connected sock that detects pressure thanks to smart-fabric sensors and the anklet attached to it, collects real-time data on the wearer’s activities.
- The sporting clothing line Athos Base Series measures heart rate, breathing, and muscle activities, and alerts the user when he reaches his physiological limits.
- Owlet Vitals Monitor is a connected baby sock to track the health of a newborn baby.
- Last year Google developed a prototype of connected sneakers, the “Google talking shoes,” which aim to motivate the user to move.
- Oral-B created a smart toothbrush, which connects to a free app and tracks your brushing habits, delivering real-time personalized guidance on how to brush your teeth better.
- Snow2 is a heads-up display for alpine-sports enthusiasts that measures data from their activity and environment. The product also connects users through phone, SMS, and social-media channels. The glasses link to an app that sums up collected data, such as vertical feet skied, photos, and videos, and facilitates sharing on social-media feeds.
- The jewelry line Cuff includes a discreet personal-security device that alerts loved ones when you need them with a single press of a button.
If connected objects are related to the brand’s identity and values, they can reinforce customers’ proximity and loyalty. They improve everyday life but brands can also use them to create new consumer needs. They create a new way for brands to get closer to and expand their targets.
Connected objects will also benefit from the expansion of augmented reality. Google is already using this technology with Glass in the form of a fitness game called Race Yourself.
Having launched its glasses, Google is now developing connected contact lenses. The “Smart Lenses” aim to help people with diabetes by measuring the glucose levels in their tears. The lenses will be equipped with micro HD cameras, and thus could help vision-impaired people thanks to a navigation system that also includes facial and object recognition.
Imagine how the Internet of Things could improve life. Virtual environments will be fully integrated in our everyday life thanks to the augmented reality and wearable technologies. Let’s take this train of thought one step further: “Augmented humanity” is a concept of the Transhumanism, a cultural and intellectual movement that aims at using technology to enhance humans’ intellectual, physical and psychological capacities. This school of thought believes in the compatibility of human minds with computer hardware—“mind uploading“—and artificial intelligence that would make us “post-human.”
Is the Internet of Things the next step to this humanity 2.0?