Brand Perfect's Internet of Things
This week Brand Perfect – set up by Monotype to help brands understand and explore new technology - launched a new report on the Internet of Things. The report is worth a read and has some good case studies.
Let’s start with the definition. The report describes the Internet of Things as connecting sensor-laden appliances to a network. Those sensors share useful information and offer unlimited possibilities, from tracking physical activity and pollution levels to monitoring manufacturing processes and the temperature of your home. The most well-known products are smart heating and energy measuring services, the new Apple Watch and Google’s driverless cars, which are already on the road.
The Internet of Things is seen as a growing market. Research by Juniper released in 2014 showed that worldwide revenues from smart home services were around $33 billion in 2013, and should more than double to $71 billion by 2018. IDC thinks the market will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion in 2020. The majority of this will come from items like vehicle tyres that check their own pressure, or shipping containers that keep track of trade and produce.
So which brands are doing the Internet of Things well? The report mentions Nest, which was co-founded in 2010 by two former Apple engineers and was acquired by Google at the beginning of the year for $3.2 billion. Its strap-line is that it reinvents unloved but important home products. For example, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and thermostats that can be controlled remotely from your smartphone. Nest has won plaudits for its design, picking up a Wallpaper Design Award.
Another example is start-up Kolibree who have created a connected electric toothbrush that can upload ‘brushing data’ and help you track your brushing habits. I also recently wrote about Sarah Weldon’s Oceans Project where she taking advantage of the Internet of Things by using wearable technology to capture her solo rowing trip around the British Isles.
Of course the big thing that everyone is talking about is smart watches. David Nield’s section of the report is on the new Android-powered smartwatches and the Apple Watch. In July 2014 Google launched its first Android Wear devices, smartwatches that act as an extension of a connected Android phone or tablet. Samsung and LG were the first manufacturers out of the starting gate with watches, and we’ve since seen other models from Motorola, amongst others. As with mobile phones, Google provides the core software and services, while partnering manufacturers build the device.
At September 2014’s iPhone 6 press event in Cupertino, Tim Cook showed off the Apple Watch, a new device he described as “a revolutionary product that can enrich people’s lives. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made.” From the company that built the iPhone and iPad, that’s a bold claim. As you’d expect, Apple takes full control over both the hardware and the software.
These smartwatches, like the Pebble and the Galaxy Gear before them, are designed to bring notifications and alerts to your wrist. But can the 1.6-inch screen prove an effective companion to the five-inch screen? And what exactly does it mean for mobile apps developers and the brands behind them? The underlying aim of all these devices is to free us from the bind of checking our phones every five minutes and make the most relevant notifications more accessible. As Google’s senior vice president for Android, Chrome and Apps, Sundar Pichai, explained as Android Wear was launched: “Most people check their phones more than 150 times a day. Often it’s to read a text, look at a notification, or get some other simple piece of information. That’s a lot of time spent unlocking, swiping and entering passwords, when your hands could easily be free handling more important things.”
The report also raised a few more general questions. Firstly, something that comes up time and time again is trust and security. By using a smart object, the company that makes it has the ability to collect all sorts of data about you, from personal information to how you conduct your day, your heartbeat, through to the location of your belongings.
Secondly, if the world was full of tech-savvy objects, how do different smart objects talk to one another? Should there be universal systems and guidelines they should adhere to?
You can read the full report on the Brand Perfect website.
Like this article? You might also like Tech meets Exploration: The Story of Sarah Walden's Oceans Project.