I just searched Google News for “Internet of Things,” and more than 9.5 million stories popped up. It’s hard not to pay attention to something like that; but it's even more important to understand why we all have something to gain from the IoT.
As design engineers always looking to develop a better product -- whether a smartphone, a car, or a coffee maker -- we need to use technology to build things that people really want. And that’s never been more true than with the IoT.
Through the IoT, we now have the ability to create more intelligent and interactive products, as well as drive more revenue over the life of a product. Let’s talk about the connected coffee maker. It provides obvious opportunities for suppliers of Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth Smart) chips and sensors. But it is the opportunities for OEMs to generate new revenue streams that is most exciting.
Simply by putting a few sensors into one of their coffee makers, as well as the carafe, a manufacturer like Krups or Cuisinart could generate revenue in inventive ways. By measuring and then communicating the amount of coffee brewed and poured, the manufacturer could have Amazon automatically ship coffee and filters to the consumer -- just before the home stock runs out. That’s a commoditized product shifting toward the razor and razor-blade model. Krups or Cuisinart could generate a commission on the supplies to keep the coffee maker brewing.
Today we can measure anything that moves -- from the door sensor or the coffee pot to wearables such as the FitBit, Jawbone UP, or Nike Fuel Band. These all give us useful, quantifiable data that consumers, as well as marketers and product developers, can use for myriad purposes.
A company like ours plays an important role in enabling motion tracking in applications that will be meaningful to consumers. Our motion co-processor can make it trivial for a door or a door hinge manufacturer to tell the consumer how often, how wide, and how fast a door is opened -- or precisely when it was opened or closed and by whom. These simple measurements could activate or help load-balance home climate control. They could also be used for security purposes or to otherwise improve peace of mind.
The door application is simply an example of how vast this market and its applications could potentially become. There truly is useful information everywhere you look. What is even more compelling is that wireless infrastructure to get all this data up into the cloud now exists. Consequently, the aggregation and analysis of this information will empower us to see the previously unseen big-picture trends before we know it.
There are countless examples of smart, connected products. In addition to applications in industrial equipment that tell operators when to provide service and maintenance, companies such as Nest offer smart, connected thermostats that enable a partner utility company to turn off a homeowner’s HVAC during peak demand hours -- and pay the consumer to do so. Nest owners thus have the option of opting in to put up with some degree of “climatic misery” in exchange for monetary reward. This, in turn, enables the utility to load-balance instead of having to build new power plants to meet energy demand.