IoT is Revolutionizing How We Connect with Our Customers

illustration with hand holding up phone connected to IoT device icons like plane, tv, shopping cart, etc.

History of devices and connection

The term “Internet of Things” was coined in 1999 at a presentation at Proctor & Gamble by Kevin Ashton, a British Technologist. Ashton spoke about how communications were in large part between people and other people and that we needed to create an interface for computers to interact with one another.

18 years later we have come quite a way and while people are still communicating with one another, our interactions with technology have increased and we’re finally in a place where different technologies are communicating with each other autonomously. The UN published its first report on the Internet of Things (IoT) in 2005 and since then, IoT has impacted everything from how we heat our cars to how medicine is dispensed to how we’re listening to music or watching tv.

There are several different types of tech that allow device intercommunication or network signals to interact with software. In this article we will focus on the many ways that IoT in particular is making an impact. However, there are other ways that communication between devices that work with technologies like Bluetooth beacon technology, GPS, or Wifi. The little computers we carry around in our pockets each day–our mobile phones, make us directed tied to that impact. Apple and Google have made great strides with their technologies and with the release of iOS 11 and Oreo on Android, the way that we continue to interact with other devices around us has changed signifciantly and will continue to do so. In fact, a study by Gartner suggests that there will be nearly 30 billion connected devices by 2020. Here are some ways that IoT is being used in various industries:

 

Medical

When it comes to the healthcare and medical fields, the Internet of Things is helping researchers and clinicians understand their patients in an entirely new way. There are devices such as Philips’ medication dispensing device, which dispenses medication at the correct time of day and is synced with a patient’s phone to alert them if they’ve missed a dose or if they need a refill. UroSense helps to monitor urine output and Core Body Temperature (CBT) of patients with catheters. The data from UroSense is connected with nursing stations so that a patient’s health can be tracked and diabetes, kidney failure, sepsis, and other conditions can be prevented and monitored. Raizlabs partnered with NxStage, to develop the patient tablet system, Nx2me, that connects iPad technology to the world’s first and only at-home hemodialysis machine. The data from Nx2me is available to a patient’s clinicians and care teams who can use the information to provide the best treatment possible.

an illustration shows how NxStage's Nx2me connected device works

An illustration demonstrates how the Nx2me device works

 

Retail in the Home

Retailers are harnessing the power of IoT to improve the overall user experience of their customers in their own homes. Amazon is one of the most notable companies using the Internet of Things and has integrated voice technology into the mix. With the Amazon Echo, customers can interact with Alexa to ask questions of products and place an order using just their voice. The Echo connects to the Amazon Alexa app with all their account details, allowing customers the ability to order everything from alcohol to a brand new couch, right to their doorstep.

SimpliSafe app view showing the devices

Devices like Nest and SimplieSafe allow homeowners to control things such as the temperature, lights, security alarms, and other home systems to create an environment of their liking; Nest also communicates with other devices such as Google Home.

 

 

Wellness

The wellness and fitness industries are taking full advantage of IoT by helping their consumers connect better with themselves. FitBit and Garmin have devices that connect to apps which provide data on distance, heart rate, caloric burn, and more. Companies like Virgin Pulse are creating IoT devices like their GoZone 3 BTLE (Bluetooth) device which incentivizes employees to become more connected to their health. Dieticians and clinicians are also using the Internet of Things to empower people to make choices that are more nutritional and best for them. Nima created a BTLE sensor that detects gluten in food and their app not only gives individuals an entirely new level of freedom where fear used to exist but also allows restaurants and cafes the ability to better serve gluten-intolerant patrons.

Image of Virgin Pulse app and device

The Virgin Pulse BLE device and accompanying app

Entertainment

Different companies involved in entertainment are utilizing IoT devices to better serve their audiences. Disney has created a MagicBand that contains a RFID tag connected to a park visitor’s private information and allows them access to different in-park perks. While RFID tags aren’t normally smart enough to be considered IoT, in this case the MagicBand transmits a signal to the backend infrastructure at Disney that helps read the signal and turn it into information that’s useful.Pink Disney MagicBand Google’s Chromecast, which, when paired with your television, can talk to the software in other devices, such as your phone or computer, to display content from one to another. Information like this can be extremely helpful for determining different ways in which to increase efficiency in the parks and how to best cater entertainment to users.

 

 

 

How will this affect businesses and

customer relationships?

We talk a lot about usability and understanding how users think about a brand and their product(s), and the entry of IoT across industries will only catalyze business’ growth. We’ve even seen IoT provide information that catalyzes the conversation with your customers in ways that provide your business with additional insights. For example, Nima may see that users in a particular area are using their Nima BTLE gluten sensors more and more individually, but no restaurants are using a device in-house. Now the people at Nima can reach out to restaurants in that locale to see whether or not the gluten-sensitive patron is being catered to by having a device available. This is where the people-to-people relationship comes back into place. Being more connected to users and their worlds can help use tech to improve their lives.

 

How do you prepare to get into IoT?

Embracing the development of IoT devices means big changes for businesses in each industry and the data collected is a great way for companies to evolve in time with their customers. But embracing IoT also means preparing for changes in business models that typically come with a new value proposition. John Deere is one example of a company that partners with others to deliver data from its devices. How can you begin using that data in a way that delivers better solutions to your customers? Here at Raizlabs, we’ve collaborated with many clients to strategize how IoT may fit into their current business model and then we’ve followed through with usability testing on their current and prospective users. The Internet of Things has given us an innovative and hopeful perspective on how the connection between device and people will help brands evolve into better tools to improve people’s lives. If your team has an idea on how to begin incorporating the Internet of Things and wants to dive deeper into the tech, get in touch with us.


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