I have a confession. I was stupid enough to download some podcasts on my phone assuming I was connected to my houses WiFi when I wasn’t. The result? I ran out of data with 2 weeks left on my mobile plan cycle. THIS IS LITERALLY THE WORST THING EVER!
Okay, so that may have been an over-exaggeration/major first world problem – but seriously, when did our phones become waaayyy more useful as internet devices than actual… phones?
The internet has become an essential presence in many of our day to day lives. We feel lost without it. Remember the days when we had a question and had to ask our DADS?? Okay, so I still do that, but now I can also Google it to see if he really knows or just made up some answer to sound smart (about 50/50 I estimate).
You would be forgiven 15 years ago for not knowing what a smart phone was. Just like you can be forgiven today for not knowing what The Internet of Things is. But believe me, in 10 years or so you will not know what you ever did without it.
We all know that the internet is *magic* (*code for ‘I don’t know how it works’). It has the power to bring people together in ways like never before – I mean the ‘Cool Pope‘ recently met with Mark Zuckerberg (don’t pretend you don’t know who that is) to discuss plans to bring the internet to THE WHOLE WORLD! That is seriously awesome!
So what exactly is The Internet of Things (IoT)? To be technical about it, the IoT is defined as “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction”. All that tech-talk basically means that everyday objects have the ability to be connected to the internet and therefore to communicate with other objects and human beings.
Virtually anything you can think of could possibly be achieved with the IoT. It helps to explain the IoT with an example. Just imagine that you have a heart problem – a monitor is inserted just like a pacemaker but can connect to an app on your phone so you can monitor it in real time, it could send information on your heart to your doctor or family members and could even help predict future problems before they arise. How incredible would that be! We have come a long way.
While things like this may seem a long time away – we are actually closer than you may think. There already exists items that are a part of The Internet of Things; and who do you think are one of the first groups of people to jump on board? That’s right: MARKETERS.
There actually some products that are all about the IoT; one very common one are fitness trackers such as Garmin Watches and FitBits. These trackers are worn (usually around your wrist like a watch) and monitor heart rate, exercise, sleep and more; providing you (*and potentially other companies – did you read the T&Cs?) with the data through their relevant apps on your phone.
While I don’t have a problem asking someone where they got a particular item of clothing if I love the look of it (I just assume they take it as a compliment); I know some people (read: my sister) get a little awkward about it. Now imagine what a great marketing tool it would be to combine the IoT into clothes and have an app on your phone where you could (not too creepily) scan someones outfit and find out where they got each item and if there are multiple outlets, which is cheaper and the store locator/website links for each!
Or you know when you go to the supermarket and you forgot your list and you JUST KNOW that you have forgotten something that you need. Well never fear, in the IoT, there are sensors in your fridge and pantry that can tell you what you have run out of and whether your milk is almost empty; or when you are walking around trying to think what to get for dinner, that you already have some mince and tomatoes at home so how about you get some burrito wraps and other filling items or some pasta sauce and pasta for spag-bol? The possibilities for marketers and consumers alike is ENDLESS!
Now I could go on all day about the amazing potential of the IoT and things that we should also be wary of – but I wont. Instead if you find this as fascinating as I did, have a look at some of the YouTube clips I’ve embedded below and let me know what you think!
Is this amazing? What else could marketers do with the IoT? Should the general public and consumers be worried though? What potential privacy implications do you think everyday people may have to face in the future with the IoT?
Internet of Things Videos