We enjoy many aspects of the “Internet of Things,” where we use the Internet to connect ordinary objects to us. This includes things like security cameras around our home to connecting the coffee pot to an app so you can turn it off from your desk at the office. Many “Internet of Things” ideas are still pipe dreams, so let’s look at three that are closer than most of us anticipate.
1. Personal Medical Devices
The hard truth is that most of us get a quick diagnosis for our rashes and fevers online. We look up causes, symptoms, and treatments from behind the comforting glow of our computer screens. Rather than feel ashamed, I suggest we embrace the help of the Internet and get our home medical supplies connected.
Consider the idea of a smart thermometer. Take your temperature with it, input your other symptoms, and it could give you a suggestion for what your illness might be. It could send the information directly to your personal physician who could give you a quick diagnosis and appropriate treatments. This same principle could apply to smart bandages, which could be wired to analyze a wound and suggest treatment methods.
Still not convinced? Imagine you or a loved one have a medical emergency. While you wait for the ambulance to arrive, you are sending vital signs to the EMT’s who can analyze the situation as they travel. By the time the ambulance arrives, the EMT’s will already know what is wrong and will be prepared to treat the patient.
The introduction of smart medical devices could revolutionize how we receive medical services. I love the idea of being able to check my vital signs from home and interacting with my physician without leaving the house. I could see smart medical devices being applied in the military and even in veterinary work.
Cars are getting smarter every year, so I think it’s about time we had cars that offered more than just a GPS and a radio. If I am going to pay for an expensive vehicle, I shouldn’t have to still depend on my phone to check my email. We should be able to get into our cars and not feel disconnected from the outside world.
If a car could check the weather online, it could automatically adjust the internal temperature before you get in. You could have your emails read to you, access your music library, use video chat, and get real-time GPS without ever having to touch your phone.
Smart cars would not only connect to the Internet, but also to each other. As you drive along the highway you could view the profiles of the people who are driving alongside you—who they are, where they’re from, and where they’re going. I could see my morning becoming a social activity, making connections with people who have similar travel patterns as I do.
While the concept of connected cars is exciting, implementing the technology can be complicated. Since the process for manufacturing vehicles takes many years, they have to anticipate the technology that will be used and needed. I would also be worried that these features could become a distraction for drivers, much like texting is today. Despite these setbacks, I would still find the marriage of automobiles and the Internet to be a welcome one.
The fashion industry is fast paced and practically unpredictable—just like the Internet. Who is to say that the next fashion trend isn’t smart clothing? A company called Ballantine already has a head start on the competition.
The idea is to have a shirt that updates just as often as you update social media. If you post a photo to Instagram, the picture can show up on your shirt. You can display your recent tweets and current music tracks or you can simply customize the shirt design right from your smart phone. You could easily change the color of your hat, shoes, socks, scarf, and pants without having to ever go home and change your clothes.
An even further application of smart clothing would be clothes that react to their surroundings. Your clothes could receive weather updates and adapt to the elements. If it’s hot, the stitching could loosen and improve air circulation to cool you off. If it’s cold or raining, your clothes could tighten to keep you warm and dry.
Personally, I don’t find the idea of having my personal photos, tweets, and music tastes displayed to the world to be very attractive. However, having clothing that reacts to my surroundings sounds like a fashion trend I can get on board with.
Having everyday objects connected to the Internet opens up a whole new world of possibilities—some more practical than others. Either way, the “Internet of Things” is expanding and will continue to change how we live.
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