How Internet of Things (IoT) Technology is Used in Lifestyle and Entertainment
Although the technology of the Internet of Things is still actively changing and developing, one thing is clear. The Internet of Things is absolutely enormous. IT researcher firm Gartner estimates that by 2020, there will be 21 billion devices connected to the Internet. People already enjoy a largely online lifestyle, and so the prospect of connecting the real world to the digital realm is neither surprising nor unwelcome.
Technology has so much potential to aid us in everything we do. Entire cities are leveraging IoT technologies to optimize traffic, parking, and even emergency services. Private citizens utilize sensors and devices of all kinds to secure their homes, lower their power bills, and even keep track of their medical conditions.
Beyond that, though, and perhaps most importantly, the Internet of Things has the power to transform the way we play. The lifestyle and entertainment industries are betting big on IoT. In 2015 alone, the entertainment industry is estimated to have spent $47.2 million in IoT technologies, and the number is only growing year after year.
Lifestyle and entertainment are important. Although we all love to hear about technological applications a variety of industries and fields, we have a natural tendency to get the most excited about things that are fun, things that make us feel good, and things that are just plain cool.
So, with that in mind, here are our favorite lifestyle and entertainment Internet of Things technologies that we have seen. We think they’re cool.
Founded in 2007 at the very dawn of the IoT era, FitBit has found a great deal of success with their connected fitness wristbands. Although they were once essentially simple pedometers, the latest versions of the product track not just distance walked, but also stairs climbed, speed, and even calories burned. They include a rudimentary sleep tracker, and everything is tied together with a robust web platform and mobile app to provide motivation and guidance. Naturally, the latest FitBit Alta also includes a variety of fashion-forward bands designed by Tory Burch.
By de-emphasizing workouts and emphasizing overall general lifestyle health by including a sleep tracker and automatic activity recognition, FitBit successfully brought IoT to the masses. The product line, especially the Alta, “just works” in the way that lifestyle tech legends like the iPod have in the past, and FitBit has reaped the rewards.
The way we eat is an enormous factor in our overall health. Innumerable diets and meal plans come and go each year, and for many people, food is a lifestyle as much as it is a health concern. People define themselves by their veganism, their paleo diets, or their adherence to “real food”.
Just as important as what we eat though is how we eat it. The old adage of chewing each bite of food 32 times before swallowing actually has scientific merit, and eating too fast can lead to a host of problems including weight gain and gastrointestinal distress.
In 2013, a tech startup called HAPI set out to solve the problem using the Internet of Things. They created the HAPIfork, which is the world’s first connected fork. Although the concept may sound silly, there is solid research behind the device. Like any good IoT device, the HAPIfork collects several pieces of data. With each meal, the fork tracks how long your meal took to eat, as well as how often and how many times you put the fork in your mouth.
For those not yet eating solid foods, HAPI’s hardware partner Slow Control also makes a smart baby bottle. The BabyGigl tracks an infant’s feeding times, speed, and volume, allowing savvy parents to get their diet just right from the very start.
IoT Login Management
One of the great nuisances of the digital world is password management. Although absolutely necessary, the chore of remembering passwords, or even utilizing a third-party password management software like LastPass, is enough to slow down anyone’s Internet usage. The sheer number of different websites, services, and applications today’s user enters on a daily basis, from entertainment to banking, means that the number of passwords to track approaches the unfathomable. The alternative, a single password for each site, is downright insecure despite its appalling level of use.
The Internet of Things, by bridging the gap between physical objects and the digital world, presents an opportunity to rid ourselves of passwords once and for all. Think of modern cars that use keychain dongles to seamlessly unlock when their owner approaches. Thought leaders in the IT industry are already considering the possibilities a password-free, or at least password-reduced, Internet. By using a physical device as a login gatekeeper, rather than a piece of information like a password, our lives could become a whole lot more convenient.
Of course, even the best lifestyle and entertainment technologies are of no use if we are sleep-deprived. Consumer-level sleep monitoring is a relatively new proposition, with entries by FitBit and even Nintendo having come and go. Startup firm Eight, which enjoyed a very successful IndieGogo campaign that raised over $1.2 million dollars, has developed the world’s first smart sleep monitoring system.
By placing sensors inside an ordinary mattress cover, the EightSleep system is able to collect a wide range of data from slumbering IoT enthusiasts. The platform tracks not only sleep and wake times, but also environmental data like room temperature and light levels, as well as medical information like breath and heart rates.
Sleep is important, as is well known by just about everyone. By applying the concepts of data analysis to the way we sleep, Eight hopes to improve our lifestyle, our productivity, and our health. The web platform offers graphs and tips on improving the user’s sleep, including recommdations on when to go to bed and how much ambient light to allow in the room.
Turning Lifestyle into Entertainment with IoT
The common theme in all of these innovations is the way they make taking care of ourselves fun. The so-called gamification of health has proven benefits. Adding an element of reward and play to any task makes us naturally more interested and more likely to stick with a regimen. Couching complex lifestyle regimens into simple terms like star or color ratings makes them more understandable to people who may balk at the looming spreadsheets of past exercise and diet plans.
By leveraging the Internet of Things, lifestyle companies have the opportunity to make taking care of ourselves an act of entertainment, rather than one of necessity. By using physical objects and data (lots of data!), to do the hard work behind the scenes, they make a healthy lifestyle easy and natural.