Intelligent Objects were center stage at this year's CES.
Intelligent Objects, one of our 10 Trends for 2013, were front and center last week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. These are everyday objects infused with technology that enables them to communicate salient facts to users, generally via smartphone apps. With wireless sensors, everything from plants and forks to washing machines can become “smart.”
One of the most buzzed-about items was HAPILabs’ novel HAPIfork, which tracks how quickly users eat and warns speedier diners to slow down (which helps avoid weight gain); as with most of these objects, it syncs with a computer or smartphone. Flower Power from Parrot—which also sells consumer-targeted drones—monitors sunlight, soil moisture, temperature and fertilizer for plant owners. It then alerts users when they need to water or adjust other conditions, depending on the plant in question. Whirlpool’s 6th Sense Live technology, which will be on the U.S. market in March, turns the brand’s appliances “smart”; a dryer, for instance, can alert users when to remove delicate items, as Forbes reported. Trakdot, a little battery-powered device coming to market in April, is placed in luggage that travelers want to track.
Smart Clothing, one of our 100 Things to Watch in 2012, was also prominent at the show. “We’re about to clad ourselves in arrays of sensors,” writes Dan Lyons of ReadWrite. Instabeat, for instance, is a waterproof sensor for swimmers that attaches to goggles and tracks heart rate and other data; a light glows in different colors based on the heart rate.
Lyons observes that while the Internet began as somewhere “you went to,” it’s now “constant, ubiquitous and pervasive. … The new Internet is in our phones and in our homes. It’s in our refrigerators and thermostats and cars. It’s on our bodies. We ourselves are actually part of the Internet.” This will mean new communication platforms for brands as their products take on personalities—and a new challenge for marketers. It will also mean new streams of data, which can be used to better cater to consumer needs.