Get your devices talking to each other

IoT-Graphic

Everyone of a certain age remembers that popular cartoon “The Jetsons” in which a madcap family lives in the future – their lifestyle made easier by a range of robotic home help and push button services. Amazingly, the cartoon, made back in the 60s, envisioned all sorts of technology that we now take for granted — flat screen televisions video calls, smartwatches and robotic vacuum cleaners, to name but a few. Sure, we may not all be zipping around in flying cars just yet, but it seems that The Jetsons may have even predicted what is becoming the latest trend in tech, The Internet of Things (IoT).

The Jetsons enjoyed an inter-connectivity in their lives that is becoming commonplace now. We are well used to connecting to the internet via our phones, chatting to friends, shopping and being entertained – but now our possessions themselves are internet-enabled and are connecting and talking with each other. What’s more, they are able to carry out task in the background to meet a range of needs.

So what are these “things” exactly? Well it could be anything from your fridge that monitors its contents and texts your smartphone to tell you the milk is running low, to a light systems that turns the lights on when you’re due home, or even automobile systems that track your driving for insurance and safety reasons.

Fundamental to the Internet of Things are technologies such as the cloud and networks of sensors and chips, gathering and analysing data which can be used to uncover patterns and optimise existing systems and business processes.

It is via sensors tracking factors such as temperature, speed and movement that the IoT will really come into its own. After all, this technology is all about gathering data, analysing it and using it. But this analysis and data is no good of course, if not backed by the cloud-based applications that can continuously gather and interpret data from sensors and transmit it back to other machines and to enable real time responses. For example, imagine if a road could sense when an accident occurred and measure how much traffic was backing up. This data could be sent to cars and traffic lights to help re-route drivers and avoid congestion. Now imagine whole cities and the buildings within them working this way. Surely money and energy could be saved via extra efficiencies and real-time data analysis.

Salim Sukari, Director of Empower IT Solutions says, “The next few years we will see the IoTs being used to improve productivity in the work space by enhancing functionality. While no one knows yet just how big it is going to be, not getting involved could end up being a costly mistake for any business – which it is why it’s worth talking to providers like Empower IT who can keep you up to date with how IoT can affect your industry.”

For now, most of these efficiency will be used to increase productivity in the work space, rather than checking your fridge contents or putting on your air con. Data will be used to enable companies to make savings and improve worker functionality. This is why businesses and governments are looking to get in on the IoT action, smart industries and smart cities are terms you’ll start hearing a lot over the next few years and technology seems to be aiming at augmenting the way we live with tech-like augmented reality or wearables or having machines replace humans in certain tasks like driver-less cars or virtual assistants. Our homes will slowly become connected but it’s likely to happen more slowly, as we tend to buy one device at a time, and only then if they are compatible with the systems you already have in your homes.

This is all very exciting of course, but how does it affect you as a business owner? Well to answer it, not greatly at the moment. The Internet of Things isn’t quite overseeing everything yet, in fact, you could say it’s still very much in the hype stage. There are simply too many different products and platforms, and a set of standards will be needed. What’s more, security is a concern – it’s one thing getting your email box hacked but imagine if hackers took over your home security alarms and surveillance. The best advice is to be aware of the Internet of Things, start reading about the latest developments as regards your own industry and envisioning how things can move forward. You can then work with new technology or your service provider to help prepare for this brave new world. After all, things are changing fast, and if you don’t start thinking like the Jetson, you’ll end up living in the past like the Flintstones.

Connecting apps to enhance efficiency

Even if your toaster isn’t talking to your coffee machine quite yet, you can still get your apps working and talking to each other to improve efficiency in the workplace. Mac and Apple lovers will know how useful it can be when their iPhone backs up music, docs and pictures to their computer and tablets. But now there are other integration apps that can connect very different platforms.

New technology such as Zapier allow you to connect and move between some 400 apps, including and move data between them. For example, you can save Gmail attachments to Dropbox, create booking forms that link directly with the office calendar, or connect your email box with production tools like Trello or Zendesk. All this without having to create any code at all. Zapier does it all for you. Google Apps can also be more closely integrated, to share data and features. There are a range of integrations you can do, such as connecting your office calendars to Gmail and docs, or incorporating Google voice mail tasks into your Gmail platform. It is well worth exploring how Google’s many apps can be made to work together to benefit your business.

Want to get more out of your apps or wonder if the Internet of Things can help boost your business? Why not come and talk to the experts at Empower and we can help take you into the future.