The Future of...

What’s the Future of the IoT?

The annual Consumer Electronics Show that wrapped up in Las Vegas last week is widely known by its initials, CES, but Time.com suggests the 2017 version could easily have been known as “The IoT Show.” Why? “Just about any product shown will have some form of connectivity.”

I’m a few days back from CES 2017, and I can tell you that Time’s proposed nickname fits. The Internet of Things (IoT) was foundational to a flood of the products featured. The products veered from the educational, like a toy to help autistic children, to the trivial (an automated cat feeder). But this just speaks to the variety of applications for the IoT.

No matter the device, an IoT-based product depends on instantaneous, secure, low-latency connectivity, or it just can’t work as it should. To understand why, read about designing IoT architectures in our white paper, “The Fog Rolls in – Network Architectures for IoT and Edge Computing.”

Here are a few IoT products from CES 2017 that caught our eyes:

Reaching autistic children

Leka is a smart toy built to interact with children with autism and developmental disabilities in ways that improve their communication and social interaction skills. The company’s founders say its purpose is expressed in its name, which is Swedish for “to play” and “to heal.” The small, spherical robot rolls around, plays music and chirps like a rolling R2-D2, enabling children to interact and bond with it. It plays educational games, and its stimulation levels can be customized according to a child’s needs. Some games, like hide and seek, get the child working on gross and fine motor skills. Others encourage the child to respond to social cues and interact with the adult monitoring the session. The company’s founders say they are working to make all the data collected from the Lekas available to parents, therapists and researchers globally, so behavioral patterns can be better discerned and more children can be reached.

Optimizing sleep

The Sleep Number 360 smart bed promises an “optimized sleep experience” through technology that continuously adjusts mattress settings or bed temperatures. As the sleeper shifts around, mattress air chambers inflate or deflating to fit body contours. An adjustable base moves to each sleeper’s ideal position and detects and tries to alleviate snoring by raising the snorer’s head seven degrees. The bed also understands a sleeper’s bedtime and waking routines, so it warms the foot of the bed when bedtime approaches (research shows warm feet help people fall asleep faster). It also sounds an alarm at the lightest stage of sleep near waking time, to get people out of bed at the optimal time.

You’re, uh, brushing your hair/teeth wrong

We’ve seen smart toothbrushes before. But Kolibree says we haven’t seen anything like the Ara, which the company says is the first toothbrush embedded with artificial intelligence. The toothbrush takes raw data collected from the toothbrush’s sensors to learn your brushing habits, including where in your mouth you’re brushing (or not), as well as your brushing frequency and duration. “Deep learning algorithms” embedded inside the Ara are then applied, and the brush recommends how to improve your technique. Similarly, a smart hair brush called the Hair Coach purports to improve your hair health by analyzing potentially flawed brushing methods. The Hair Coach has a microphone that hears your brushing patterns and sensors that sense hair dampness, measure the pressure you’re applying, and analyze your brush strokes. The brush is wirelessly connected to your smart phone and can pass on insights and tips that improve hair care.

Never feed your cat again!

… Or at least hardly ever fill your cat’s water and food dish with your own two hands again. The Catspad automated smart cat feeder holds nearly four pounds of dry food and about two gallons of water, and can automatically deliver your feline his/her food and filtered water for up to a month. You can use an app to program and adjust eating times and track how much your cat is consuming. And if you have multiple cats, the Catspad can detect who is eating what via an identification chip or collar.

Breathing easier and healthier

3M Company offered a sneak peek of its new “wearable respiratory tracking solution,” which is aimed at customers with asthma, allergies or other respiratory sensitivities. The wearable clips inside your clothing and tracks your breathing quality, as well as environmental conditions that could affect breathing. When the system detects changes in breathing patterns, it looks for possible environmental triggers, so you can address problems. The system also tracks trends related to triggers or locations, and offers insights you can act on to predict and improve your breathing quality.

These are just a few of the IoT-based products introduced at CES this year. As the IoT expands, there’s a growing need for secure, instant, ultra-low latency interconnection among the companies working to take advantage of it. But that’s something many legacy, centralized corporate IT networks can’t deliver. That’s because they often transmit data back and forth to a centralized corporate data center using “multiple hops” over high-latency private networks or the public internet. That leaves them prone to congestion, losses or delays.

Enterprises can change this dynamic by taking advantage of the Equinix global data center and interconnection platform and an Interconnection Oriented Architecture (IOA) strategy. By deploying an IOA strategy, enterprises can securely bring the IoT’s essential components (clouds, networks, data, people, etc.) closer together for superior connectivity, right out at the edge of the network.

Learn more about how to deploy an IOA strategy by downloading The IOA Playbook.