By Olivia Price-Walker, Senior Consultant at Frost & Sullivan
19 February 2014: On Monday morning a summary of my week appears on the bathroom mirror while I’m brushing my teeth and I approve a set of automated tasks offered by my personal assistant; washing loads, car MOT (delivered remotely) and an upgrade for my home hub.
While serving me my morning coffee the machine displays a selection of coffees my friends have recently rated and asks me if I want to make a substitution in my online shop. I motion for the ad screen to disappear (hereafter I don’t seem to get adverts on a Monday anymore…obviously they’ve worked out it’s not the best time to get me to change!).
Yesterday evening my partner and I had spent an hour walking through Florence via an augmented reality application on our smart glasses. A hotel deal floated in a 3D advert above my tablet – the deal was amazing so I gestured to book it.
I’m glad I approved that upgrade of my home management system as it has a new feature that starts up an educational game for the kids for when they wake up. It’s tied to the school curriculum so they’ll do well on their tests but, importantly, will also stop them from waking me too up early and gives me another 30 minutes to prepare for my day.
This may still sound futuristic but we’re part way there. Anyone with a smartphone (and that’s most of the world) is connected with lots of sensors—an accelerometer, a compass, GPS, light, sound and altimeter. Plus connectivity is cheap, fast and we have enough capacity for every star in the known universe, 4.8 trillion, to have an IP address.
Early entrants are exploring ways to monetise opportunities opened up by connected living. First movers in the market are taking one of three approaches: a single purpose solution; a partnership alliance; or a broad platform offer.
Nest, the smart thermostat, is a single purpose solution but can be linked to sensors in many different ways, for instance in a baby’s cot thereby making sure the room temperature is regulated according to the baby’s body temperature.
A great example of a partnership alliance is Fitbit, a wearable device to track fitness, sending notifications to home shopping service Ocado to incorporate food that will ensure your calories are regulated according to your fitness regime.
A platform offer has been launched by Deutsche Telekom, partnering within EnBW, eQ-3, Miele and Samsung. The Home Base uses wireless to create a network between various devices such as a television, washing machine or central heating thermostat. Telefónica Digital has partnered with Streetline, a specialist in Smart Parking end-to-end solutions, and Libelium, a developer of M2M Smart Cities sensors, to create an open ecosystem enabling town councils, urban service providers and entrepreneurs to develop the Smart City.
The market might develop differently in different countries. Companies like AT&T and Comcast have done well in the USA by emphasising the security aspect of their home management system. Utilities in the UK like British Gas have been successful in appealing to people wanting more visibility of their energy consumption following widespread public concern about high energy bills.
The vision of a connected life is just starting to take off and the Internet of Things will become more central to the way we live than the Internet as we know it today. The role of the internet will be reduced to a language for displaying content on screens while our connection to everything around us will really define the way we live.