The Internet of Things (IoT), which is new technologies that connect even the most seemingly unimportant object to the internet through the use of sensors and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags drew a lot of attention at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Connectability is the future and some of the examples are pretty impressive, to say the least.
Tennis Racket connected to the Internet
With the addition of tiny sensors embedded into the handle, the racket has the ability to measure a player’s strokes, topspin and pretty much anything else that happens when the racket hits the ball. This information is instantly relayed through a wireless Bluetooth connection to a smartphone app that the player can view and analyze later.
“It’s going to be a huge change for the tennis player,” said Thomas Otton, director of communications for Babolat, the French tennis company that invented the original cow-gut racket strings 140 years ago. “They are going to have access to all kinds of information and data that will help them progress much faster and have more fun. It’s a true revolution.”
Some devices may be a little over the top, like a toothbrush that connects to the Web and records your brushing activity. The toothbrush, from French company Kolibree, even has an app that tells you which teeth need a more thorough cleaning.
Smaller and cheaper sensors, along with, faster wireless connections and the huge popularity of smartphones and tablets has led to easier and more cost-effective links of just about any object to the internet.
People are coming to expect that even the most common things will be more useful when they are connected to the internet.
The Smart Home
“I think a lot of this is going to start with the smart home,” Kelly Davis-Felner, a representative of the Wi-Fi Alliance, whose members have played a key role in enabling this connected world. “The smart home is going to be built brick by brick until 10 years from now we’re going to be looking back and saying, ‘Wow, I can’t believe there used to be a time when everything wasn’t connected.’”
Businesses already embrace this type of connectivity. They use sensors to wirelessly track supplies, packages and the performance of machinery. The fact that computer memory and sensors have become more and more inexpensive has resulted in the spread of connected devices for consumers as well.
“We’re seeing an acceleration of uses with the consumer Internet of things,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy. “You could have done many of these things before, but the battery life might have been only one hour. Now it lasts a week.”
With the advent of mobile devices, being connected no longer means the need for large computer screens and buttons. And these devices never need to be plugged into a desktop computer to be synced.
“On many of these devices, sensors pull off the unique information and feed them to your smartphone,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist and director of research for the Consumer Electronics Assn., the trade group that runs the Consumer Electronics Show. “These devices don’t need to be computers by themselves.”