IoT, the Internet of Things, is a term that you must have heard about these last couple of years. Small sensors that are able to measure something and communicate their findings to a (central) server. To give you an example: the city of Utrecht (The Netherlands) has equipped recycling bins for glass and paper with sensors that will indicate that the bins are full. This does not only allow collection just in time (and therefor could save on cost) it also makes sure that people are able to throw away their recyclables and not leave them next to the bin (as some people unfortunately do). A very sensible use case for IoT. But not all of them make sense in my opinion!
How fit is your dog?
A company called Fitbark has created a fitness device for dogs. Fitbark has been around for a couple of years with their device. The ‘raison d’etre’ for the company? Apparently, 54% of US dogs is classified as overweight and they really need to exercise more in order to lead a healthier life. Actually, there is even a TV show on Animal Planet called ‘My Big Fat Pet Makeover’ in which pet owners and their overweight pets are on a mission to reduce weight. Next to dogs, in one of the episodes Baby (a potbellied pig) was the star of the show. I am not making this up, I promise! But now Fitbark and Fitbit (the fitness device manufacturer for humans) work together to make both owner and pet healthier. In Q1 of 2019 you can see both your exercise stats as well as your furry friend’s stats on the Fitbit Versa watch. So you know how you are doing as well as Rover (or Spot or whatever you call your dog).
At CES, Kyocera showed a beer glass that can signal when it is empty so it can be refilled by the waiters in a restaurant. So you are never without a drink. When it works on a beer glass it will typically also work (I think) for other beverages, like coffee, sodas et cetera. Imagine the kind of data that it will provide to you. When you link a glass to a known client you know how much they drink on average per night, can have stats about historic consumption, signal when a person is not able to drive anymore and can order a taxi et cetera. Let’s not forget that we exchange all this data with the health insurer who would like to know how much alcohol they consume. Ok, now I am joking a bit. The fact that it is possible does not make it desirable. To be more specific, it makes it completely undesirable to gather and exchange all of this data. First of all, there is the aspect of privacy and secondly, we do not want this. But, and this is the scary part, there are already companies that know much more about you than you are typically comfortable with. When you order groceries online or use a loyalty card, your supermarket knows how much alcohol is consumed in total or how much potato chips you buy per week. The example of the beer glass, according to the information that is provided, is a showcase of a new type of sensor that can work in the vicinity of water and to showcase the beer glass was chosen.
Sense behind the nonsense
IoT is not necessarily new, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) has been around for many years in the industrial environment to monitor and control industrial, infrastructure, and facility-based processes and systems. IoT is making this easier, cheaper and also available to the general public rather than the industrial setting of SCADA. But IoT is inventing itself as it goes along and the two examples show some of the experiments that companies are doing or actual products that they are developing. Innovation is something that has the element of uncertainty in it, you never know if it is going to work and / or people will like the idea. Only experimentation will give the answer to that.
What is the result of IoT deployments and IoT experiments? From a high-level perspective of course, added value to your business or processes. On a more detailed level, the challenge to integrate this in the current ICT landscape. If you have an enterprise grade API Manager, Enterprise Service Bus and Stream processor I think you have the required elements to start with your own IoT experiments or deployments.
If you’re not sure if your current API Manager is up to the task, take a look at our selection guide we have for API Management solutions which will help you with the requirements. Then you can also find out what IoT can do for you.