Less than 0.01% of all devices in the world are currently connected to the Internet—imagine what life will be like when more are sending data to be analyzed and used. It could be as disruptive a technology as connecting people to the Internet.
This view of the future was discussed by a panel of experts at a Harvard Business School Association of Boston event Nov 5, 2013. Moderated by technology expert and venture capitalist Woody Benson, the panelists were John Williams, Director of MIT’s Geospatial Data Center, Mark Bonchek, Founder and Chief Catalyst, ORBIT, Christopher Rezendes, President, INEX Advisors, and father-to-be Ben Cooper, Co-Founder & CEO, Sensible Baby.
Devices are addressable; they have URLs. We are moving from a one-to-many to a many-to-many environment.
The issue is not new technology; it’s new business models based on using the technology with devices. Plus the social network of things: The ability to integrate the existing technology.
Ben Cooper’s firm, Sensible Baby has developed wearable technology for babies to monitor their sleeping position, ambient temperature, and breathing. Parents are alerted to any problems with messages on their smart phones. He believes that this will give parents peace of mind and he will find out in four months when his first child is born.
Benson observed that a leader’s vision creates a new reality. Bill Gates told his 15,000 employees at Microsoft that his vision was a computer on every desktop. Think what the company would have done if Gates had envisioned a computer in every hand instead.
Williams provided another example of a useful Internet of Things application. Monsanto tracks the seeds planted by farmers with GPS devices on tractors. The devices gather data on the depth of planting, the amount of rain, etc. Monsanto creates a script to tell the farmer how to increase yields by changing the planting parameters. Not only does it sell the script to the farmer, it aggregates the information and sells it to other organizations.
A new business model is the use of Task Rabbit or Mechanical Turk to create a virtual infrastructure at a fraction of the cost of establishing an organization.
Healthcare has a wealth of Internet of Things applications. For example, the best indicator of problems after surgery is fluid retention. So doctors send the patients home with instructions to weigh themselves every morning. The scale sends the data to the doctor who determines if the patient has gained five pounds overnight—and calls the patient to come in right away.
Water is important, right? The US has 12 million private wells. A contactless water quantity measurer could indicate that an owner needs to dial down water usage to avoid a shortage. Plus, low water concentrates contaminants which could damage pipes, washing machines, etc., an expensive outage.
Organizations are thinking many more ways to use the Internet of Things technology to be more competitive—what is your organization doing in this space?