It’s been a bit quite in here for the last weeks – we had to recover from the awesome hybris Customer & Partner days 2014 :-) We’ve not been sitting around and doing nothing, we got in touch with a lot of stuff, mainly hardware. We’ve been preparing for 2014 and IOT is #1 on my list of trending topics. In 2013 we’ve already built several connected prototypes – “things” that were able to communicate in some sort with the internet. We even added Facebook to the game and posted the winner alongside a coupon on Facebook. All these things had commerce-driven ideas (couponing) at it’s heart. That was cool, but now we’ve gotten deeper into the microcontroller space and actively investigate IOT – the Internet of Things.
We’ve just been advising and speaking at the Mobile Tech Conference in Munich, which for the first time dedicated a full day to IOT. And even the evening was filled with IOT because we had an open house for the IOT Munich meetup, right at the conference. I am very much looking forward to the IOTCon in Berlin later in September, where I’ll be helping to organize the tracks and topics as an advisor. And I am pretty sure I have to tell the one or other story, too.
So what is the internet of things? Definitions have been changing, but this is the one that’s fitting for me right now (also see the illustration below):
A thing on the internet is connected to the cloud/internet, so it is possible to send messages down to the thing and also send data back to the cloud. Also, elements of the internet of things have their own processing power so they can react and work with the data received or create data to send back to the cloud. Things are also connected to the physical world via input (sensors) and output (visual, electrical, mechanical, etc.).
The definitions of IOT have changed a lot, from simple NFC/QR code based tagging systems to connected electronics with a steady connection to the internet. But from observing the market and the current new products coming out, it seems an IOT in which all devices are truly connected to the internet or at least some intermediary hub (smartphone, etc.) seems really feasible.
The question for hybris is: what does it mean for retail and for commerce in general? I believe the impact will be huge, as we’re able to capture a lot of currently untracked data about customer behaviour using sensors. Also, we are able to interact with the physical world and change it (via selection, lighting, sound, motors). Combined with proximity services like iBeacon, or paired with NFC some really smart customer-focused use cases become possible.
We’re working on stuff, and I’ll share more over time and once we’ve hardened a few ideas and designs.