The internet of things. This time last year you’d be in the majority if you’d never heard the phrase.
But things have changed in 2015 – George Osborne used the phrase in the Autumn Statement for one – but the major tech players are beginning to take it a lot more seriously and are pushing products a lot faster.
For those still scratching their heads, the internet of things (IoT) is the idea of all devices being connected to the internet, and then being able to communicate with each other – with central control in the hands of your smartphone. So for example, your kettle automatically turns on when your alarm goes off in the morning, while at the same time your smart thermostat switches on the hot water.
It’s music moving from room to room and speaker to speaker as you move through your house, and your door sensor sending you a notification when your child gets home from school.
The concept is powerful and this year the physical products and software that are at the centre of this have gone into overdrive. So much so that next year is shaping up to be the time IoT works its way into your life.
Smart Things was an independent brand, but was snapped up by Samsung in 2014 and has now been integrated into the Samsung ecosystem.
This year, the first big line of products with the Samsung logo on them launched: a line-up of home sensors for doors, windows, plugs and also a camera. The aim is the creation of the “smart home”, completely controlled by the user from their phone. It’s a concept Samsung has been pushing for some time and with more and more smart devices and appliances appearing – TVs, fridges, washing machines to name but a few – it looks like now is the time to go big.
But there’s one firm that would argue they’ve already been doing that for some time. Indeed, Nest can pretty strongly argue that they’re the IoT pioneer thanks to their smart thermostat, which was first introduced way back in 2011. Since then a whole host of competitors have jumped into the same market of heating you can control from your phone.
Now, Nest has sensors and cameras – as is the fashion – and expect to see them keep on coming.
While hardware is naturally a big focus, Apple has so far taken a slightly different route, focusing instead on software for developers to work into their products that make them IoT-ready.
They call it HomeKit. Add it into your smart light bulb and the software will enable that product to easily pair with an iPhone or iPad and be controlled by that mobile device.
The reason this is a big deal is Apple has a huge amount of third-party partnerships in place, and indeed plenty of products that use HomeKit are already starting to appear on shelves. Before you know it, you could have a smart home in place without even necessarily setting out to do so.
Given the way IoT-based products are growing, you might have already started doing so.
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