Much has been written and said about the Internet of Things. On the rapidly growing market, the amount of connected devices surrounding us and the far-reaching effect of this revolution on our lives.
Three interesting aspects of the Internet of Things revolution are the ability of devices to sense their environment, the ability to control products through a mobile application, and the ability of devices to communicate with each other.
The first aspect is developing rapidly. We are surrounded by various types of sensors and we even carry them on our bodies inside smartphones and smart bracelets. The second aspect has flown forward. We can control the streamer, thermostat, alarm, and lighting via the smartphone. But are we really in the era of the “Internet of Things” when many manufacturers fail to bring added value through communication between products created by other manufacturers? Often the answer to the question is this – No.
Every “smart” product has its own application, its own cloud, and the value it brings is only limited by its ability. There is no real synergy. From a customer perspective this is a serious obstacle. A sea of Apps has been created, and each one connected to a different product. Inside this chaos, the day is beginning to brighten with a number of trends. The most significant signal in the market, in January this year, was when Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion. What does this acquisition herald? It announces that Google wants to be the one who provides us with the smart products at home, and the way to follow us and learn about our habits. The big data would make them a trillion dollar company. And what is their enemy in Cupertino doing? Earlier this month, Apple released HomeKit, allowing the concentration of smart device applications into one application with a unified interface, similar to what Apple does in other content area; books, magazines, tickets, and more. Apple’s goal seems more modest, than that of Google, they just want to make the iPhone the remote control of the house and sell many more iPhones.
Another trend that allows communication between different products is creating an API, or a software interface, which allows manufacturers and independent developers of various products to communicate directly with specific smart products. One example is the technological cooperation between the Israeli start-up company GreenIQ and the French technology giant Parrot. A few months ago Parrot released a product called Flower Power. The product is a soil moisture sensor which sends messages to your smartphone when the potted or garden plants need to be watered. At the same time GreenIQ developed a garden computer which connects to Wi-Fi, collects weather data, and waters the garden according to the weather while saving tens of percent of the cost of irrigation. Cooperation between the two companies created an interface which allows pairing of the Flower Power sensors to the GreenIQ garden computer. These two IoT products which were developed independently are now working together and caring that the garden receives exactly the right amount of water, entirely automatically. The connection between the two products created a new value to the customer which did not exist in any individual product.
In the near future we will see many more collaborations of this sort, until the market will undergo a maturation process, standard operating systems will be established and will allow communication between one device to another, creating synergy that will bring real benefit to the user.