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The Internet of Things: From Tasting Drinks to Tracking Pigs

Data analysis is everywhere. People have a lot of information at their disposal and many avenues to get more of the same. We are in the early stages now, but with the internet and sensor computing helping us to do everything from testing drinks to chasing pigs, the possibilities are huge.

The intersection of the Internet of Things and wearable technology is pushing things forward at a rapid pace. The wearable technology market is expected to triple in volume to 19 million units this year, says IDC, as prices fall and features swell. Xiaomi recently introduced a fitness-tracking wristband for just $13 and more watches, eyewear, fobs, smart garments and so on appear every day. Information considered by future-gazing group Pew Internet finds that, within a decade, wearable technology will be as ubiquitous as electricity.

Industry experts at Pew have predicted a “global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked computing environment” that is smeared over people and their lives like a technological and analytical lotion. From your pocket to your wrist, your body could become one glorious mobile touch-point for analysis, comparison and study. Diagnosis you might have gained from visiting the doctor, you will be able to glean from a visit to the high street, the internet or an electrical shop.

Some argue that with the rise of health- and fitness-tracking devices there will be too much information and privacy that could be violated, but the mushrooming of related technologies is certainly leading to some fascinating products.  

There is a smart cup, a cup called the Vessyl, that is able to fulfil something that people have been challenged to do for years — tell Coke from Pepsi.

The cup has sensors that can detect liquids, say how much you have consumed and how well that fits into your daily drinking goals. Stag weekends may find one competitive use for this, but athletes and people that want more control over what they put into their body could make better use of the Vessyl.

Salesforce.com, the ‘No Software’ pioneering cloud business, recently launched its wearables programme for the enterprise, and has thrown its weight behind the technology and what it means for industry.

Wearables are the next phase of the mobile revolution,” says Daniel Debow, SVP, emerging technologies at Salesforce. “With Salesforce Wear, companies can now capture the massive opportunity these devices offer to connect with customers in new ways.”

Amazon.com recently opened a wearables store-front and the technology is making its way out of the fitness market and into a range of industries.

UK firm Glofaster offers a range of ‘smart’ jackets for runners that improves their visibility for safety but also provides data feedback such as pace and heart rate. Company founder Simon Weatherall says that Glofaster concentrates on data that is important to the user.

“The data gained from wearable tech seems to get more advanced with every new product launched but I believe that people are finding it hard to nail down firm uses with that data as a lot of products are in early stages or test stages,” he adds.

“We aim to give our users power with their stats by connecting them with their senses and making understanding the data more intuitive. A lot of technology requires you to analyse stats from every minute of every day or track differences in the body’s behaviour. We believe that you should be able to understand your data more instinctively [so] you can adjust your workout on the move. Large data sets are great but they don’t get you fitter whilst you’re exercising unless you can interpret them quickly.”

Data analysis and the Internet of Things does not stop with the human being. There are also porcine applications.

Pilgrim Beart, a startup entrepreneur and the CEO at 1248, saw his connectivity technology being used to study the movement and activity of pigs. 1248 worked with farm monitoring company General Alert on a system that studies livestock and assesses their health and wellbeing. Sensors are placed around farms including tags on pigs that relay the animal’s temperature by RFID.

“Pigs was an entirely unexpected use case,” Beart says. “It reinforces our general point that across many completely different verticals, companies are today solving the same problems again and again when they connect their products to the internet, and so there is tons of scope for common solutions.”

1248 has also worked with IBM on a streetlamp project and Beart said that despite appearances the projects shared many themes.

“In every case what is wanted is a system for measuring and controlling what's going on out in the field, and to do so in a way that's reliable and can scale into really big numbers. Up at the application layer, there's obviously a big difference between an app for pigs and an app for streetlights, but the infrastructure to connect them is similar. Even at the application layer there are many commonalities with common concepts such as temperature, location and so forth.”

Beart says companies are starting to invest in Internet of Things infrastructure and he believes that within a couple of decades IoT will just been known as ‘internet’, and viewed as the norm.

“The same components are required whatever the use-case, whether fitness bracelets for consumers, part tracking in industry or pig management on farms. So no, there are no limits. The enabler is the internet itself, so wherever that goes, so can the IoT.”

 

David Neal has been writing about technology since the Millennium Bug. He’s survived Alta Vista and the I Love You virus, and now works from his home in Kent

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David Neal

David Neal has been writing about technology since the Millennium Bug. He’s survived Alta Vista and the I Love You virus, and now works from his home in Kent.

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