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How Design Improvisation Helped Them Become the Most Innovative of Companies
Imagine a world where everything around you caters to your needs and requirements, where the very environment you’re in bends itself to serve your wishes and desires. Sounds too good to be true? Well, it is true, and it has already begun! If you are still in doubt, we have three words for you: Internet of Things, and we have the 7 brands which have truly embraced idea, on their way to becoming the most innovative of companies in the world today.
What is the Internet of Things?
The internet has forever been replete with buzz words, and the latest among them, perhaps the most popular today, is the ‘Internet of Things’ – a brilliant ecosystem, seemingly straight out of a science fiction movie – which will, in the near future, connect anything and everything together. 28 billion things connected by 2020 is one estimate, put forward by Goldman Sachs.
What, however, is the ‘Internet of Things’ really? The term was initially coined in 1999, by Kevin Ashton, a British technologist then at MIT. It envisions a world where everything around you, from your home to your smart phone, and from your car to your refrigerator, is connected both to each other, and to the Web. Why? Well, to help your environment become smarter, more intelligent, and more attentive to your needs and desires.
Therefore, with the Internet of Things, your fridge will be aware of when you are running out of milk and will immediately inform you, while your garage will let you know every time you have forgotten to close the door. Your house, commanded by smart watch, will play soothing music if you are having a bad night, and your car will honk the horn to reveal its location in a crowded parking lot at the touch of a button on your smart phone.
Each of the empowering brands mentioned on the list below have raced to adapt the Internet of Things, bringing the future closer, and helping us transform our lives through innovation – by improvising upon existing product designs, and introducing new, IoT compatible products. There are various ways in which all of the brands mentioned below have changed our lives using the Internet of Things, including:
Simple Product Designs to Simplify Life
The purpose behind connecting everything is to achieve task automation, which is being made increasingly more possible and easier through the simplification of product designs.
Consumers are progressively enjoying more power over products than was ever previously possible. For example, you can lock your garage door, if you forgot to do it when leaving, while sitting in your office using your smart phone.
Influencing Consumer Behavior
Consumers are ever more excited and delighted by connected devices which help make their lives easier and more comfortable. For instance, you can wear a stylish wrist band, which also provides insights about your health and habits, encouraging you to lead a better, healthier lifestyle.
Functional vs Fancy Product Designs
Fancy products may have caught the eye in days past, but no longer. The consumer of today wants and expects functionality with optimized design, and the brands embracing IoT have already begun delivering as per expectations.
Samsung have long been recognized as one of the foremost tech giants in the world, and they even took the lead in the great smart phone race against Apple, even if only briefly. Fortunately, Samsung has a lot more to offer than smart phones, and they have vision.
They have realized the future, and have embraced the Internet of Things with arms wide open, releasing next generation products in waves, including wearables and appliances, such as refrigerators which send you a text if you leave the door open, and vacuum cleaners you control through your smart watch, Galaxy Note, or – in an incredible turn of events – with your iPhone.
The brilliance of Nest Labs, recently acquired by Google, and the reason they make it onto this list, lies in their ‘Works with Nest’ program. For consumers, it is the stuff dreams are made of, for Nest products are now becoming increasingly integrated with smart devices from other manufacturers.
Your smart phone can now tell your Nest thermostat to adjust the temperature when you’re on your way home or your Nest Protect can get your Hue lights to flash on and off if it senses that there is something wrong. If that doesn’t do it for you, consider this: the Android platform has now been expanded by Google beyond phones and tablets, so your smart-watch, TV, and even your car can now communicate with Android devices
It is impossible, of course, for there to be no mention of Microsoft where there’s a discussion of empowering brands, and the company, in typical fashion, has stepped into the arena of the Internet of Things with aplomb and flair.
Microsoft launched a new version of Windows for Intel’s Galileo, a processing board tailor-made for IoT devices, facilitated data processing from embedded devices through its Azure Cloud services, and all of this following the announcement that if your device’s screen is smaller than 9 inches, you could obtain a free Windows license. They didn’t stop there either, but announced recently that they are working with several partners in order to bring their technology to a variety of things, such as health-monitoring tools, elevators which are aware of when they need maintenance, and better emergency response systems designed especially for New Orleans.
IFTTT have made it onto this list not for innovative designs, but because of the sheer genius of their vision. They began by allowing users to develop what they have termed recipes, which let them bring together purely digital Internet services.
You could, for example, write a recipe automatically posted to Pinterest every picture you were tagged in on Facebook. Since then, IFTTT have moved onto more tangible devices, now letting you write recipes to connect your smart devices as well, allowing even non-developers the luxury to dictate how they want their hardware to interact with the Internet.
The cars from Tesla Motors were already making waves in the automotive industry, and around the world, for their all-electric engines and their sleek designs, when they upped the ante even more by embracing the Internet of Things
In a deal with AT&T, Tesla’s cars were reimagined with IoT to include wireless connectivity, and such brilliant features as up-to-date maps, smart phone apps which pre-heat or pre-cool the car for you, and secure remote diagnostics. If you have forgotten where you parked your car, it’s no problem whatsoever, as you can now honk the horn remotely. That, however, is not it at all, as owners of Model S – both existing and new – can now avail 4, yes four!, free years of internet radio and in-car connectivity.
Salesforce estimates that up to 75 billion devices or more could be connected by 2020. Whew! So, what do they do with their research? They work hard on it, rushing to get their customers on board the Internet of Things wagon.
They have launched a software development kit, Salesforce Wear, which will help enterprise users with wearable devices, include the Samsung Gear smart-watch, Google Glass, and the Myo Gesture Control armband. What is superbly innovative about Salesforce’s vision of IoT is they are bringing it to the workplace, where surgeons can use the Myo to avoid disruptions in their work, and pipeline inspectors can wear Glass and record voice notes or take pictures even as their hands are busy.
The first subway of the world, running below London’s street for over 150 years, is being brought into the 21st Century by Transport for London, using state of the art technology to upgrade Victorian heritage, in partnership with Microsoft, CGI, and Telent.
The Tube will have cloud-connected sensors integrated into it, helping transit officials track everything from video cameras to air conditioners, and from equipment vibrations to automated alerts, spotting problems from a single set of control panels, and allowing them to direct repair personnel to the right place at the right time, with the right tools. The whole system will be streamlined, and costs will be reduced for both the rail system, and the 1.2 billion commuters who use it every year.
The Internet of Things has already brought about the next great revolution to the world, and it has only just begun. Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Samsung have already stepped into the arena, and as other empowering brands follow suit, we can all look forward to a smarter, more connected world – a world where our devices do our bidding, not through complex procedures, but at the touch of a button.
The only question which still hangs rather ominously over the whole issue is of consumer security and privacy. Will the Internet of Things make technology more invasive, and our lives less private? Would you still embrace IoT? Talk to us, and let us know what you think!