In a mere 7 years, there will be anywhere from 24 to 50 billion internet connected devices. That means between 3 to 6.5 devices for every man, woman, and child on this planet. What are all these connected devices, and who is using them, you might ask.
The devices are not just the usual suspects anymore. The connected world has PCs, smartphones, and tablets, and soon smart watches, eye wear and bracelets, along with growing numbers of “things” we don’t always think about in terms of their internet connectivity: televisions, cars, household appliances, cash registers at stores, gas pumps, vending machines, surveillance cameras, health monitoring equipment, utility meters, containers for shipping goods, industrial equipment, machinery, highway sensors, cameras at toll booths, jet engines, just to name a few!
Who uses these connected devices? We all use them. Increasingly, we are living a connected life experience through these “things.” Consider this example. A woman is jogging through a city park and becomes thirsty. She does a voice search on her smartphone for bottled water and is directed to a vending machine within 100 meters of her current location. She goes to the machine and buys a bottle of water using a mobile payment account in her phone.
This vending machine captures the jogger’s account information which becomes part of a stream of data sent to the beverage company. The machine also senses its supply of water bottles has become low and immediately sends an alert the distributor. The distributor’s automated supply chain management system adds that machine to the route of a nearby delivery truck (all trucks are “connected” so their locations are known at all times) whose driver sees the new stop on his route. He stops and fills the machine. The supply chain management system also adjusts its calculations as it places a new automated order to the bottling plant.
Meantime, the jogger decides to stop at the grocery store on the way home. Based on recent vending machine activity and location information, the beverage company sends a promotion directly to the jogger’s smartphone. She receives it just as she is deciding on a beverage purchase.
The Internet of Things and Machine-to-Machine communication is not just creating highly engaging real-time experiences for the consumer, but is also paving the path for connected, more intelligent homes and cities.