“Internet Of Things”: is it just a buzz word?
Will all objects around us be connected to the internet?
If we compare this trend to the development of electricity, not all products around us use electricity. And even if they could, it just makes no sense for most of them.
So what will appear after all industrial products have their obvious connected features? Will the IOT bubble collapse?
Here is the challenge for startups, industries and innovation consultancy: imagine meaningful services mixing both physical and digital means.
HARDWARE (DEFINITELY) SUCKS
According to the conference panelists, venture capitals don’t like hardware.
Compared to software, the logistics around production is more complicated and when the product is on the market, you can’t fix problems like you would by upgrading an application.
So they expect you to ship at least one product before even considering your business.
Plus, if there are no strong entry barriers, such as secret algorithms, best in-class user interface or huge investment in marketing, your product could be easily copied and sold for a cheaper price.
And also for VCs, successful crowdfunding doesn’t guaranty the viability of an hardware company. It can even endanger the companies reputation if the backer gets angry not receiving their product on time.
So, the more you can avoid hardware, the better.
And if you can’t, they advise to go produce, as fast as you can, where mass manufacturing for consumer electronic is experienced, fast and affordable: South East China.
NETWORK IS THE KEY
The first batch of connected devices faced many annoying problems: they highly relied on smartphones to connect to the cloud, and wifi or bluetooth consumed their battery too fast.
The necessity to connect and to charge them spoiled the convenience they were supposed to provide.
But, this was before Sigfox.
What is this about? It is a network dedicated to connected devices, that uses low consumption waves to transport small batches of datas.
The density of antennas is way lower than GSM, and the emitters used have several years of battery life for basics datas exchange, just as a bee hive that checks honey production.
IT’S ALL ABOUT DATA AND SERVICE
What if my washing machine auto diagnostics itself when a problem has occurred. It would tell me what piece to change so I could order it and fix it myself, avoiding complicated customer service procedures.
Research and Development industries would be more agile, getting massive feedback way faster and more precisely.
Then a new trend could appear: the FIY, Fix It Yourself…
DISCOVERED AT THE CONFERENCE
Here are some remarquable IOT products I discovered at the conference:
Prynt: turns your smartphone into an instant camera
Lego Fusion: kids can build the facade of an house, then scan it and play with it in an ipad app similar to SimCity
Mixstik: a LED measurement tool for cocktails
Drust: connects with your car system to analyse your driving and helps on maintenance
Smockeo: a smoke detector using Sigfox
Xon Snow 1: home training snowboard
Prizm: smart music player
Having worked in both design fields, product and digital, I am fascinated by the emergence of IOTs.
You need to think both physically and virtually, and to find the right structure that works for either the user, the technology and the business.
What do you think about « connected devices »? Have you ever worked on such projects?