September 5, 2013
From forks to mattresses and beer bottles, objects everywhere get smart
Like Elvis, the Internet is everywhere, and it is quickly becoming everything. Since we identified Internet-enabled Intelligent Objects as one of our 10 Trends for 2013, the number of smart goods has exploded. (If you really want to blow your mind, check out Cisco’s real-time counter of connected devices.) With uses ranging from the practical (Fujitsu’s prototype “smart walking stick”) to the frivolous (Budweiser’s Buddy Cups in Brazil) to the practically frivolous (Hapifork), Intelligent Objects are invading many aspects of life.
A plethora of new wearable devices (Fitbit, Nike FuelBand, UP by Jawbone) have been generating attention this year; pets get their own versions. There are also sensor-laden basketballs to help players track their jump shots and tennis rackets that can measure shot power and spin level. And for downtime, a sleep-tracking Beddit mattress. Among many other Intelligent Objects for the home, we’ve seen Internet-connected baby monitors and the LivelyHub, which lets family members keep tabs on elderly relatives via sensors around the house. There’s also a company, SmartThings, that aims to network all the Intelligent Objects in the home, and beyond.
On the lighter side, in addition to Budweiser’s Buddy Cups, there’s also Heineken’s smart beer bottles (they light up according to the ambient sound and motion) and Robokegs (which use NFC chips to distribute beer). Intelligent Objects are also connecting to social media by way of innovations like the NFC Ring, which will provide a link to wearers’ Twitter accounts.
With more than 50 billion connected devices expected by the year 2020, there’s no question Intelligent Objects will become integrated into our lives; the remaining issues are whether our current Internet infrastructure can handle the explosion of devices, fears of a new wave of hacking and, of course, privacy.