Future Friday: The world of work and the Internet of Things

How will we be connected to our work?
How will we be connected to our work?

Most of you have heard the term “Internet of Things” or IoT. Wikipedia defines it as:

“..the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the production, operator and/or other connected devices based on the infrastructure of International Telecommunication Union’s Global Standards Initiative. The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit..”

It is estimated that there are currently about 10 billion devices that have this capability. By the year 2020 there will be 28 billion and by 2025 there will be 50 billion devices. You will not be able to spend a minute of you day without some interaction with an IoT device. Examples include things like energy systems in buildings that sense the presence of people; security systems that alert residents of intruders by messages to their phones; or your Fitbit which notifies you by smart phone when your device needs to be recharged. But have you ever thought of applications in the workplace?

IoT at Work

There will be hundreds of applications at work, many that we may not even be aware of as of yet. My imagination may certainly be too limited to think of them, but here are some of the ways I can think of:

  • Because the detrimental effect of sitting too long is well documented how about a chair that measures how long you have been sitting and sends you a warning to your smart device to tell you to get up and move?
  • A device that anticipates your presence and readies your office for your arrival and sends a message to confirm;
  • A coffee packet dispenser that informs the supplier when the packets are low and orders them without having any checking;
  • A computer monitor that tracks eye movement and can tell when an employee’s energy is flagging and thus sends a break message;
  • A refrigerator that tells when someone’s lunch has been there too long;
  • A software program that realizes you are struggling for ideas and suggests topics;
  • The office can send messages to all employees based on a calendar and not require any additional input;
  • You phone senses where you are and who you are going to go see and it can send a message to let them know if you will be late and by how much.

We are already seeing some of these things. Your smart phone will be the remote control of your business and personal life. As a result two things need to happen. Battery life needs to improve, considerably. Secondly, your smart phone needs to be able to tell you, by communicating with other devices where the heck it is when you lose it. It will be an important tool.
What else do you see in your work interaction with the Internet of Things?

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