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Microsoft recently announced its newly branded Lab of Things. It describes this as ‘a flexible platform for experimental research that uses connected devices in homes.’

I thought I’d use this opportunity to look again at the rise of the connected device, and the future of the so-called internet of things, or IoT. Below you’ll see 10 things that you, the consumer, should expect over the next few years.

By the way, if you’re new to IoT, here’s a handy video summing it up, from EVRYTHNG.


Being upsold hardware :-)

This tab is from DLNA’s website. That’s one of the companies working in this area. In the home, devices will have to be WiFi enabled in order for you to interact with them remotely.

This pretty much means purchasing a new washing machine if you want to be able to turn it on from your office. These washing machines are available.

Pretty soon you’d rather be seen dead than with a waffle iron that doesn’t have its own email account….

Rewarding ongoing interaction, or lifecycle marketing

This sort of comes under personalisation (see previous post on Diageo's campaign with whiskey). And it's the biggie for marketers, in all its guises.

Let’s give a social example from EVRYTHG. You buy a bike. It clocks up how many miles you’ve done, and where you’ve taken it. The company that sold you the bike can then reward you with offers on further equipment/experiences relative to your riding.

When you come to sell the bike, there’s a social history the new owner can look at, to investigate the legitimacy of any second-hand sale.

Rewards are even more important for devices such as coffee machines, where the consumer is buying refillables, and the brand wants to know when a good customer continues to bring in money. After 1,000 cups of coffee, let me know, and send me some teeth-whitener! (I have copyrighted this cross-sell).

Talking of coffee...

FREE cup of coffee with every list post!!!!!

Props to Qualcomm for this demo. By far the coolest use of any technology is to deliver caffeine to my body.


A big one. Nuts, bolts and sensors.

Canary is one of the leaders in the market as it stands. By the way, it also has a beautiful scrolling website.

This is a portable bunch of sensors that connects with your router. It requires no modification of your home. It has a hd camera with nightvision, and does the following, deep breath; 

  • Live Video & Sensor Data
  • Mobile Alerts / Push Notifications
  • Bank Level Encryption
  • Media Archive (Video, Audio)
  • Learns & Improves From User Behavior
  • Guided Action Plans for Emergencies
  • Manual Arm & Disarm
  • Automatic Arm & Disarm thru Geofencing
  • Trigger Siren/Speaker Remotely
  • Enable/Disable Features & Modes
  • Enable Backup Alerts to Friends/Family
  • Customizable Privacy Settings
  • Track Data & Trends

So it does a load of stuff, but has been associated with security, and sending scary-ass messages like this: 

Microsoft is keen to help establish a digital neighbourhood watch. So you can tap in to other alerts on your street and share video footage of common parts. Microsoft's Door Notifier app sends notifications when door/window sensors are triggered.

Does that all sound a bit paranoid? Imagine your neighbour goes on holiday and reroutes their door sensors to your control system, so you can take a look if there’s a disturbance. Do you you go round? Do you call the cops?

Or do the neighbours see all this on video streamed to their phone whilst they’re on holiday? This leads me on to the next expectation…


Yep, more internet enabled devices means more false alarms, and more false alarms that can be escalated before common sense is employed. If a security sensor malfunctions or is interfered with, how many people are gonna call the cops from the office, rather than going home to find that, in fact, nothing is wrong at all. 

A lesser concern, but perhaps just as annoying will be teething issues with UX as we get to grips with increased intrusion of tech in our lives.

Here’s an example from Microsoft’s Lab of Things: the media switching app. This application implements the classic smart home scenario in which music is played in a room when presence is detected. It uses dimmers as the proxy for presence. When lights are turned brighter than a certain level in a room, music starts playing in that room. 

Now, if you’re not fully at home with the tech, what happens when you get up at night to go for a pee? You put the light on and Metallica crescendos. Suddenly all your neighbours are awake and checking their digital feeds. 

Energy conservation

Nest has been around for a while. Good old Honeywell is in on the action, too.

All the smart thermostats allow for greater energy conservation. Anything from turning down the temperature from your phone, in any room of the house, to realising you’re a dirty stop-out and you’re not going to be home tomorrow, and so can prevent the heat from switching on for that morning shower. (Although the one-night stand who also remembers to remotely alter their home thermostat would be a special human being, indeed).

Controlling your services like a boss-player

Head to 2:53 in the above video. This one happens to be a thermostat, too, but it demonstrates how cool these IoT platforms are at allowing you to control your environment. This is the overarching concept behind IoT at home.

Google is thinking about control from mobile, too. They've released Google Cloud Print, so you can print to your office, when you're on the bus.

Consolidated media

Here’s one of the demos from Qualcomm. Again, your speakers might not all be WiFi enabled, but once they are, then gone are the days of wires, whether in your car, the kitchen, lounge, or at your mate’s gaff. 

Same goes for video. Whatever you’re viewing, you should be able to send it where you want, second screen with it, interactively, too. And being on the same network allows for low latency, so you can interact across devices.

Check out chalkboard, on this cool reel using AllJoyn's platform, a peer-to-peer focused company in this space.

Little Printer

These guys spoke at Econsultancy’s Future of Digital Marketing, earlier in 2013. Check the presentation here. The product has been around for a while, and is a good example of fun new products enabled by wireless, internet enabled devices, for use by the whole family.

The printer’s hair grows over time. You can send crosswords, lists, love notes, whatever you want, to this little printer.

Product lineage/heritage

This doesn’t necessarily involve an internet enabled device; rather a tagged product, with RFiD chip or similar. 

This chip can be updated with product information as it moves through the supply chain. Every time the chip is read, the information can be uploaded from a reading device. This is useful for suppliers, who can track where products end up and how they are used. 

It’s also useful for consumers as products can come with specific information such  as guarantee, date of manufacture, origin of components, supply chain etc all represented in the products chip and a corresponding digital profile.

Uses include:

  • Letting you know how fresh your food is.
  • Beating counterfeit goods by proving authenticity.
  • Allowing supplier to track goods.
  • etc

Seen anything in IoT that's going to impact the consumer? Let us know below...

Ben Davis

Published 23 July, 2013 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is a senior writer at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

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Comments (3)

Dominic Byrne

Dominic Byrne, Chief Digital Officer (CDO) at DigiToro

Cheers Ben, great article.

I just published an article on this interesting topic on Monday. If you are keen to read it, here is the link:


I "repurposed" the videos you imbedded in your post on my facebook page. Cheers!!

You included some great links. The internet of things / everything is giving rise to some exciting times.

Dominic Byrne

over 3 years ago

Ben Davis

Ben Davis, Senior Writer at EconsultancyStaff


Many thanks. One thing I haven't covered above, and you have, is the potential uses for medicine.

This is surely going to expand, starting with simple sensors that sync with your phone. It's cool to think that in future our food guilt might be enhanced by seeing a glucose to glycogen spike on our iPhone app.

over 3 years ago


Zaneta Stepien

Are we inevitably heading towards the Internet of Things? How can we harness this potential?

over 3 years ago

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