It’s sometimes referred to as the second generation of the Internet, but what exactly is IoT? The Internet of Things (IoT) is supposed to greatly expand the reach of the Internet and the networks that enable it, by networking just about anything with electricity (through a battery or otherwise). You’ve probably seen the predictions – 10, 20, even 50 billion connections by 2020.
Beyond the obvious devices of smartphones, tablets, smart meters, and wearables, I often wonder what else is in that 50 billion. I mean in practical terms.
I found a great example with Brita’s new ‘smart’ water pitcher. Yes an everyday water pitcher. With a wi-fi connection. Amazon and Brita have partnered together to offer a water pitcher that will sense when its water filter needs replacement. The water pitcher will then automatically order a replacement water filter from Amazon, via wi-fi, and have it delivered to your door.
This IoT application is part of Amazon’s Dash Replenishment Service (DRS). With DRS, many household items from laundry detergent to water filters can be automatically ordered and shipped from Amazon, with little or no human involvement. It’s a practical IoT application at work.
But these early IoT applications aren’t cheap. That ‘smart’ water pitcher costs $45. Its replacement filter is an additional $6. That compares with $21 for a normal ‘dumb’ water pitcher ($4 for its replacement filter), and that doesn’t count the battery.
So you pay a 114% premium for the privilege of having your water pitcher order its own filter for you. Worth it? Maybe for some. The cool factor alone may be worth it. Imagine the water cooler conversation superiority benefit – “my water pitcher orders its own filter, can yours do that?”
The prices for these IoT applications will surely come down over time. Is this a glimpse into the future of IoT? Maybe. End consumers will be the ultimate decider. But at least for now, I have a little more clarity on what exactly is IoT.