It is 5 PM, I am sitting at home, working on an essay. Suddenly my smart watch vibrates, giving me the following notification: “If you want to work out three times a week, as usual, you should now head to the gym, before it closes in 2 hours”. Today was not even a training day though, so why did this notification happen? But my watch was correct, if I want to get my third workout in, I have to go now, since my brother is getting married tomorrow leaving no time for the gym. How does my smart watch know me better than I know myself?
It is all part of the Internet of Things. How does this happen? Well, I have my gym app on my smart phone and in it I chose the routine that requires me to visit the gym three times a week. By my phone knowing exactly where I am 24/7 via GPS, it knows that I have only been at my gym two times this week. That along with my smart watch measuring my heart rate constantly, it knows that I only exercised twice. These devices know for sure that I have missed one session at the gym. I set my brother’s wedding as an all day event in my calendar, so my phone knows that there won’t be time to make some gains tomorrow either. Lastly, through Google, my phone knows when my favorite gym closes so it alerted me two hours before that happens. Great, time to go and work out.
I grab my bag and go outside to hit the gym. Seriously, that’s all I had to do. There was no going around the house to see if any electrical devices are still turned on that could cause a fire, or if any windows are still open. I didn’t even have to check whether I unplugged the iron or not because as soon as I head out and close the door, my smart home recognizes it via the GPS location of my phone. It knows that I left the house and it has learned to automatically close the windows and shut off all electronical devices. All devices except for my laptop, which will be put into power saving mode since I always forget to save my projects when I am in a hurry.
I run towards my car and get in. My smart watch sees that I’m short on time and tells my car to calm me down a bit with my favorite chill music.
Luckily, I didn’t have to stop at a red light. However, stoplights are also part of the Internet of Things. With embedded video sensors, they can adjust their green and red lights according to where the cars are. Also, the stoplights only turn on when they detect an approaching vehicle or pedestrian which not only reduces light pollution at night, but also saves the government a lot of money otherwise spent on electricity.
Once I am near the gym, my car automatically directs me to the nearest empty parking spot, which my car knows by “communicating” with the parking spot itself.
After I lifted enough weights, which I unfortunately had to lift by myself, I went home. Guess what, my smart home knows when I enter the house and greets me with lighting that fits the time and my mood of the day. Since I’m hungry, I go my refrigerator and the moment I open it, my phone sends me a notification with a suggested meal that I should cook. It not only knows how much calories I have to consume in order to reach my fitness goals, by my smart watch measures how many calories I have burnt throughout the day; it also knows what I have inside of my fridge, since my phone is able to communicate with my fridge via the Internet of Things.
After I had my meal, my pill-box pops open, as it does every evening after the box is sure that I had dinner. Inside of it is a pill of vitamin D, which I lack during winter. I take the pill and go on with cleaning the dishes. Meanwhile, the box realized that I have eaten the pill and informs my insurance company. I get a 15% discount on the insurance costs if they can make sure that I take my healthy supplements on a daily basis.
I go to bed upstairs at 10 PM, wearing my sleeping shirt that has built-in heat detectors. They measure my body’s temperature and combined with the climate control system that knows which temperature I can sleep the best at, my room gets warmer or cooler based on the information received from the shirt.
The Internet of Things is an amazing concept that makes life a lot easier.
It not only saves us brain energy, but also saves us time. It’s like a very intelligent and self-sufficient assistant that follows us everywhere we go.
Still, it is far more than that. With smart busses connected to the Internet of Things, we can make sure that our children get to school safely; with garbage cans that tell the waste department which cans are full and tells their trucks the most efficient route to take which can reduce air pollution greatly; with street lights, that can detect car crashes and instantly notify the police and the nearest hospital, we can reduce car accident deaths.
The possibilities in this relatively new sector are endless. It’s on us to make the best out of it.
I have to go now, my smart watch told me that I have to go to the gym. I want to leave you with a great quote by Geoff Mulgan about the Internet of Things – “As the Internet of Things advances, the very notion of a clear dividing line between reality and virtual reality becomes blurred, sometimes in creative ways”.