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The Internet of (Almost Invisible) Things

The Internet of (Almost Invisible) Things
IPA Senior Insight Executive Damian Lord gets to grips with the rapid rise of The Internet of Things and how it can add value to consumers.

Since the turn of this decade the wireless connectivity of objects to the internet – commonly labelled as the ‘The Internet of Things’ or simply IoT – has rapidly become an almost ubiquitous signpost for our (post-recession) digitalised existence.

Indeed, Cisco predicts that 50 billion connected devices will be in circulation by the end of the decade, a fivefold increase from the estimated 11 billion in 2013.

Yet as big business battles to mark out its territory across this landscape (as well as mobilising its offerings), what does IoT actually mean for today’s consumer - a consumer simultaneously hardened by recession and empowered as never before?

If we consider IoT as a range of intimate technologies seamlessly integrated within a wider ecosystem, then the key becomes utility.

Consumers will welcome the efficiency at which they can micro-manage the data that underpins their lifestyle(s) – from smart homes to smarter fitness – yet its arrangement needs to be simple (both the offer and the execution).

Certainly, being connected to our wider environment is welcome. Having it bolted onto us is not. So, the experience needs to be personal and non-intrusive. Value laden and not a hard sell.

In short, an exchange where the individual retains the role of (consumer) kingmaker. Yes, there is a real thirst for ways in which devices can effortlessly professionalise and enhance our lives, as well as adding a sprinkling of magic dust from time to time (play, discovery and reward). But if the act becomes invasive, then the utility is gone.

The recent partnership between Nest and Jawbone (a home learning thermostat and wearable activity monitor respectively) illustrates how today’s consumer can extract utility out of IoT in as seamless and unobtrusive a way as possible.

Within the home, we can experiment with these internet-enabled devices to provide low-hassle control over temperature that in turn responds to our physiological conditioning. So, both devices interact to preset the ideal sleeping environment once we reach for the covers.

These are internet-connected devices working together to add benefit to our lives without the need to scream out instruction or squabble for attention. The aspiration is better living through technology that blends into our lives as opposed to hijacking it.

Now, let’s briefly leap into the future and consider advertising. A health conscious Millennial reaches into their (smart) fridge for a bottle of white wine. At this juncture, aware of the current uptick in the individual’s health programme (relayed via an array of integrated performance sensors) as well as the imminent dinner party for friends the following weekend (relayed by the digitalised diary of the house itself), the fridge recommends a new brand that contains less calories and has garnered favourable reviews across online sources.

The individual in question takes note of the recommendation and sets a time for an interactive advert to be played on their AR set at a relevant time during the week when they anticipate to be in ‘pre-party planning’ mode.

In summation, personal and better targeted advertising that is relevant and underpinned by data-driven devices.

Consequently, it becomes the role of these connected devices and sensors to pick up on our moods and triggers in order to illuminate better choices and better decisions based on our idiosyncrasies and individual makeup.

An effortless and integrated exchange where IoT becomes the new background music for the digital age: reassuring and non-invasive yet a soundtrack to our lives all the same.

Damian Lord is IPA Senor Insight Executive.

Check out our Insight Centre team and how they benefit our members.

Last updated 17/07/2014

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