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There exist several technologies that are of great value for advertisers. Also, in the upcoming years, marketing is likely to become an integral part of the interconnectivity of life. In this article, I would like to talk about a hot topic that has become of particular interest to me as of late. That is, the “Internet of Things.”
Anyone who has been to the CES in the past three years can tell you a lot about it. However, the “Internet of Things” (further referred to as IOT) is about to blow up in a major way, and of course as an advertiser and CIO I need to stay on top of it.
For those of you still unfamiliar with the concept, the IOT is comprised of thousands of devices, which contain embedded circuitry to connect to a hub of some sort, then speaks to controller devices via various protocols. Common examples include but not limited to Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and Zigbee.
Simply, it could be a light bulb that you can turn up, down, on, or off with your cell phone. The Philips brands of bulbs also allow you to change the color of the fixtures.
Ok, so why all the hype? It’s because the IoT is not just the future. It’s today, it’s tomorrow, and it is ten years from now and beyond. Let’s break this down into three categories: Today, Tomorrow, and what I call The Big Boys/The Future.
Today, you can buy a hub and control your lights. You can connect to and control your thermostat. It is possible to turn off your smoke alarm if you burn something while cooking. Also you can close your garage door remotely or buy devices from Lutron and have every physical dimmer in your house controlled from one central console.
"IoT is not just the future. It’s today, it’s tomorrow, and it is ten years from now and beyond"
That central console could be your mobile phone, tablet, or even some of the more advanced home remotes like the Logitech Home series. This isn’t just a consumer boom. The technology allows building owners to turn off every light in the building if a human isn’t within a certain radius, or turn all the lights off after hours with the tap of a tablet. This allows rain sensors on golf courses and parks to tell the watering system to turn off if it is raining outside, preserving valuable H20. It goes on and on and both business and home applications are growing by the minute.
Today all of this stuff is controlled for the most part by one or two central consoles.
In my house those are the Logitech Home Control and a few different apps on my IPhone. I have an opinion on other controllers, devices and apps. But I want to remain fairly objective here, so I’ll just state those are what I use currently. I was also fortunate enough to be allowed into the beta program for a device built by one of our favorite customers at Mediabrands, Amazon.
The device is the Amazon Echo. In my honest opinion, the Echo is amazing but sadly not available to the general public as I type this. For $199 you have a device you can put in your kitchen (or anywhere central) and to activate it’s functionality you just say its name. Amazon deemed it/her “Alexa.” But if by chance you have a real Alexa in your house, you can change its name to Amazon.
If I’m cooking and need a timer set for 30 minutes I say, “Alexa, set timer for 30 minutes.” The device acknowledges this verbally and 30 minutes later the timer goes off. I push zero buttons. It just happens, all activated by my voice. It’s amazing how the Echo picks up your voice in noisy rooms, even when loud music is played. If I want it to play a Pandora station, Prime Music, or an audio book, it’s a few voice commands away.
It connects to your IoT devices today on a small scale that continues to grow and iterate which I greatly appreciate. Mediabrands resident gadget-king and one of my SVP’s, Frank Ribitch, nailed it when he said, “Amazon didn’t try to boil the ocean with it. Instead they keep adding blades to the swiss army knife”. Today you can dim your lights by saying, “dim the lights.” It’s similar to SIRI from Apple or the Google Now functions, but the Echo requires no buttons and continues to add IoT functionality that can be controlled by your voice.
That’s the point here. We’re moving towards a place where you adjust your thermostat by saying, “set thermostat to 75 degrees” and the A/C is on. You’ll tell the shower to warm up to 101 degrees and it alerts you when it’s at the right temperature. Voice control is inevitable, while leveraging the IoT. The Apple Watch is a shining example of how well this can and does work. A phone, tablet, or remote won’t be needed. Instead it will be largely voice controlled.
The Big Boys or The Future:
Ladies and Gentleman, this all adds up to a data gold mine. Admittedly, as an advertiser, this has me excited. Not just for the sole purpose of advertising, but instead for how it might improve and alter the quality of life for the human race. Perhaps we can save power. Perhaps we can contain water usage. If we can become a more green planet as a result…I’m all for it!
Microsoft has the business market in its sights with the Azure IoT services. Samsung too has entered the ring with their Samsung Smart Things product. At the most recent Apple Developer Conference, they announced the Apple Home Kit. Google has already purchased companies in this space such as The Nest. It means that the tech industry has quickly taken notice of this “trend” and is jumping on board with aggression. Today, the single biggest challenge with the IoT is that to control everything you need a host of interfaces. Then you also need to know which interface controls what device. I suspect these players will aim to integrate all of the IoT devices together into one interface in which macros can be defined and run against.
Will a clear winner emerge, or does it remain a loosely constructed ecosystem? Time will tell I suppose. It’s certainly not VHS vs. Betamax!