PLUG ME INTO THE GRID: What I want out of the iot

  • April 3, 2017
  • Shelley Nall

I spent part of last week in beautiful Santa Clara, CA, attending Bluetooth World. This two-day event brought together over 1,000 tech leaders and developers to talk not just about how the Internet of Things (IoT) can change our lives, but specifically how we can build the devices that will make the IoT a reality.

But, what do we mean when we say, “The reality of the IoT?” The IoT is just a fancy term for the new way we interact with the technology around us. How will it materialize in our day-to-day lives? Let me paint you a picture.

As the sun rises, my blinds slowly open to let natural light into the room. The blinds are in sync with my alarm clock, so I wake up gently to a fully lit room. I smell fresh coffee – the pot started brewing five minutes before I woke up. I shuffle into the bathroom, turn on the shower, and it adjusts to my preferred temperature for this time of year. A quick check of my weight on the scale and it automatically syncs with my fitness and nutrition app. I grab my coffee. The fridge sends me a notification that I’m out of milk. I click the “buy now” option and head out the door.

I stop to grab breakfast and park at a metered spot. I don’t have any change, but that’s ok, I pull up the meter’s details and pay with my e-wallet. I walk into the cafe and my phone buzzes; “Hi, Shelley, welcome back! We’re out of your usual, but we can get you a 10% discount on anything else you might want. Just show this to your cashier at the checkout.”

I pull into the parking garage at work, the music coming through my car speakers stops briefly, and my car lets me know that spot 25 on floor two is the first parking space available. I think to myself, “I can’t wait for self-driving cars and underground parking storage. This is such a hassle.” I walk up to the office door with my hands are full. The door unlocks automatically and the lights click on.

That afternoon, I’m running late for a meeting. I check the office map to see if anyone else is in the conference room yet – nope, the room is still empty. In fact, I see that Madison is still in a meeting down the hall. Fantastic, I have time to grab more coffee.

As I get into the elevator to head home, my car turns on and cranks the heat. It’s been cold today. Traffic is bad, but the route on my in-dash map display regularly updates with real-time traffic data. I’m going to be thirty minutes later than usual; my house thermostat adjusts the AC schedule. I pull into the driveway and see that my milk order is waiting in a cooler on the front porch. As I bend down to pick it up, I place my thumb on the doorknob. Reading my fingerprint, the door unlocks, the lights throughout the house come on, and the security system turns itself off.

Dinner is steak and mash potatoes. I shout to no one in particular, “what temperature is medium-rare?” and a robotic voice replies, “The USDA recommends a minimum temp of steak to be 145°F.” I put the potatoes on to boil and stick the steak under the broiler. I head upstairs to change and keep an eye on the video feed on my phone to make sure the potatoes don’t boil over. A notification from the meat thermometer says the steak is 20 degrees away from being fully cooked, so I head to the wine fridge. Green lights mark two of the dozen or so bottles. I pull up the accompanying app and check which bottle pairs best with red meat and pull out the 2013 Hawkes Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s the last bottle I have from Hawkes; the light turns red when I pull it out and the fridge sends an email to the winery to let them know it’s time for another club shipment. A frivolous luxury, I know, but wine is one of my hobbies.

It’s time for bed. I head upstairs and the living room TV clicks off, the lights dim, the security system arms itself, the blinds lower, and the alarm clock confirms that it’s set for tomorrow. I turn on my sleep monitor – I’ve been averaging 4.8 sleep cycles a night. I lay there wondering when we’ll finally get all the cool technology sci-fi novels have been promising us and fall asleep.

Here’s the thing, none of these examples are too far-fetched. All of this technology exists today – with one caveat: while there are smart wine fridges, and apps to help you monitor your collection and understand when to drink what bottle, so far there is no Amazon Dash-like button for wineries. I’ll admit that is a bit of wishful thinking on my part.

The point is, the IoT is a reality. It’s been slowly creeping into our everyday lives; you may be plugged in without even knowing it. Do you use Waze? That’s the IoT. Ever asked Siri a question? That’s the IoT. A day as described above is within reach – I, for one, can’t wait.

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