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In a world where the current buzz terms include IoT, wearables, and “maker" space, it is no surprise that some interesting techie solutions are coming to market. It is also no surprise that there are numerous KickStarter campaigns for silly ideas, too. One thing, however, is for sure. Whether it is the simple idea of a programmable basic push button that is “connected” (thanks Amazon!) or something more complex like the latest health tracking gadget, we are only at the beginning of some really cool technology applications of the Internet of Things (IoT).
It will be interesting to see how many of the gadgets that are released in the coming months and years are useful versus those that are not. There are two examples of IoT that recently came to my attention that I thought were really good. Both showed a use of today’s sensor technology, connectivity, and a practical application that makes you go, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?”!
The first practical use of IoT was presented as part of the keynote for the SAP Sapphire 2016 conference. Although there have been a number of companies to make high-tech luggage by adding chargers, connector plugs, and other gadgets, they presented what happens when you turn a piece of luggage into an IoT device. With an IoT-connected piece of luggage, when you check in your bag, you can assign it your itinerary. The result is that your bag can keep track of its route. When it deviates from the expected route, it can automatically notify you via a smart phone app. The end result is that you are likely to know that your bag is lost or headed to the wrong place well before the airline does!
Even though I’ve not seen the luggage in action, another application I’ve seen where technology has been applied to make life easier is in parking garages. It is more likely that you’ve seen this if you use high-traffic parking garages today. This application of sensor devices combined with networking and displays allows a parking garage to become much more efficient. Rather than having drivers meandering aimlessly up and down rows looking for open spots, by using a bit of technology and connectivity, the garage can be automated to tell people where the open spots are. This is easily done by putting a sensor above each parking space that works to register if the space is occupied. If so, a light on the sensor can turn off. If the space is open, a green light can be displayed as shown in the following picture:
By wiring all of the sensors together, the garage then can display signs that show what rows have openings and how many openings are available. If you are capable of reading a sign and looking down a row, you will easily know where you can park!
The garage even can include signs at the entrance to show which floors have spaces and how many spaces are available. Going one step farther, if you are heading to an event with an automated garage, you can check to see if spaces are open before you even get there.
The parking garage and the luggage are great examples of practical uses for IoT and modern “maker” technologies. These go beyond yet another health band or robot and deliver solutions that are practical. It will be interesting to see what other unique applications for IoT and connected technologies happen in the coming months.
If you see something that makes you go “Duh! I wish I had thought of that,” post a comment here or on the forum and share what you saw. Maybe it will help inspire a different idea for someone else.
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