Of Internet-connected Crock-pots, cars, smartwatches
The CES show floor shows how we've arrived at the Internet of Things
Computerworld - LAS VEGAS -- The oft-used phrase, "Internet of Things" is one emerging tech jargon abstraction that average users are still noodling over in order to better understand and appreciate it.
Here's one reporter's attempt to give it some meaning.
Let's start with some concrete examples in the consumer electronics realm.
At its booth at the International Consumer Electronics Show this week, Belkin showed off a Wi-Fi-enabled Jarden Crock-pot. The Crock-pot uses Belkin's WeMo technology to connect the slow cooker's IP address to the Internet through a home Wi-Fi router. The company also showed a Wi-Fi-ready Mr. Coffee automatic coffee maker.
Prices haven't been announced for either appliance.
Users can control both devices over the Internet, to turn on the coffee or heat up Irish stew from pretty much anywhere in the world, just as can already be done with a Nest thermostat and other devices. The Wi-Fi capability allows an office manager to turn on the morning coffee pot in the break room before arriving or a catering firm to fire up the cooker at a remote location.
Dozens of fitness wrist bands and smartwatches are also on display at CES.
For instance, the $100 Fitbit Flex can monitor your heart rate, vibrate to wake you up or advise that your last night's sleep was restless and disrupted. Other devices, like the new $249 Pebble Steel smartwatch, are connected through Bluetooth to an iPhone or Android smartphone acting as a hub for using Wi-Fi or cellular to reach the Internet. Conceptually, a person's bodily functions could be distributed to a doctor for further treatment or used to compare to a fitness database.
Amid the chaos of the CES are thousands of vendors and tens of thousands of visitors looking to view an estimated 20,000 new products.
The products on display could hit store shelves this year, or might not blossom into consumables for up to a decade. Most are targeted at consumers, but Internet-connected devices, or "things," are already running in industrial sites to control electricity generators, water pumps, traffic lights and more. Some don't need to connect over the Internet at all; they can rely on a local network.
For several years, the tech world has used small or embedded processors and computing devices in cars, smartwatches, tablets, PCs and smartphones. ARM, for instance, said here that it works with nearly 250 device makers with 1,000 ARM licenses to run ARM microcontrollers, tiny devices that are just 2 mm x 1.9 mm, that help keep the "things" they are inside of smaller than ever.
More recently, short-distance (such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) and long-distance (such as 4G LTE, which is 10 times faster than 3G) wireless networks have vastly improved in functionality. The networks are faster, of course, but also focus on preserving battery power, as with Bluetooth Smart, based on the Bluetooth 4.0 specification.
There are also more than 1 million smartphone or tablet applications in each of Google's and Apple's app stores, and some of those Android apps even work the latest smartwatches.
The Nepture Pine smartwatch, priced at $335 and due out in March, features a 2.4-in. color touchscreen that will run most Android apps, allowing users to, for example, play the popular Angry Birds game in a relatively tiny form factor. The watch's multiple radios that use Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and even 3G wireless make it even more functional.
That may sound fantastic, but most analysts think the trend will be toward the development of much smaller, more fashionable smartwatches that can lure in more buyers, especially women. The tradeoff is that smaller watches likely need their own apps; many smartwatches now support fewer than 20.
- Open source challenges a proprietary Internet of Things
- How to build the perfect smartwatch
- The fuss over Samsung's Magazine UX is all about fragmentation
- As wearable devices hit the market, apps are sure to follow
- Sweet! Your next Hershey's Kiss may be 3D printed
- Three big trends converge at CES
- Intel to scrap McAfee name, give away mobile security tools
- At CES, tablets get bigger screens, dual OSes and even car access
- This robotic camera can take the ultimate video selfie
- Innovation in wearable tech could come from do-it-yourselfers
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Six Ways Your Small Business Can Save with Internet Phone Service Traditional phone systems present two main problems for businesses: limited features and high costs. As a result, small businesses are migrating to Internet...
- IDC Report: The Future of eMail is Social This paper discusses the changing nature of collaboration and work fueled by the social Web by examining current email trends and the emergence...
- The Business of Social Business Social business represents a significant transformational opportunity for organizations. Read this whitepaper to learn more.
- Gartner 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery Software See why CommVault was positioned as the #1 leader in Gartner's 2013 Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery software for the 3rd year in...
- Supercharge Your Web and Mobile App Development with High-Productivity Hybrid Cloud Webinar: Hear from industry experts about the amazing power at the intersection of next-generation web and mobile application development and cloud platforms.
- Four Myths of High-Productivity App Dev Debunked Debunk the main myths surrounding high-productivity application development and how both platforms have overcome them. All Internet White Papers | Webcasts