What the Internet of Things Could Mean to Consumers

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What will life be like when we have an Internet of Things?

It could mean that connected objects do a better job finding you parking places, taking care of your health, and coordinating your deliveries. It could almost be like having a personal valet.

Here are seven ways the IoT is interacting with individuals as consumers — in ways good, bad, and ugly:

1. Famed design firm IDEO is using people-centered design to envision the Internet of Consumer Things, including helping to create a headband that lets people measure their brain activity and track their mental focus. Wired noted that IDEO has also put together an online collection of internal brainstorms called Made in the Future, where it posts concept sketches and demo videos.

2. Most Internet-connected appliances do stupid things. But this washing machine is in fact quite smart. It may become the model for what we want in our appliances: connectivity without complexity.

3. The Internet of Things could mean smart light bulbs that wake you up by getting brighter.

4. There’s already a big market for sensor-driven wearables, like Jawbone and FitBit wristbands. But there’s no market-defining smash hit like the iPod or iPhone. Will one appear?

5. We’ll take the Internet of Things with us on the road, if this vision of hotels works out. Smart locks, smart lights, and even desks that suggest moving or changing your posture could all become routine parts of customer service in the hospitality industry.

6. U.S. National Football League star Andrew Luck thinks being technically connected to his uniform might be a way to get even better at his sport. On the other hand, athletes’ uniforms could also rat the athletes out if the technology could sense when they were injured, possibly shortening their careers.

7. Of course, the consumer Internet does not guarantee a carefree future. Already, hackers have hit Web cams, Internet baby monitors, and even medical devices such as MRI scanners, x-ray machines and drug infusion pumps.


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