Connected Objects vs. Being Connected

There are some subtleties around the Internet of Things.

One example is that connected objects and being connected are not the same thing.

Connected objects on the network can collectively provide masses of data in real time. Some of the benefits can be large and obvious, such as sensors in a big building or expensive piece of machinery identifying required maintenance in advance.

And then there is being connected, as in using connected objects or sensors to provide relevant messaging to consumers.

At the Xperience 2015 IoT conference in Boston last week, the name tags of all the attendees contained an RFID chip, a somewhat common practice at many high tech gatherings these days.

Throughout the conference area, there were cappuccino and coffee stations set up, each with a large screen, on which appeared a map showing the aggregated home locations of those who had coffee during the day.

That display indicated that the system or platform could capture location data in real time and link it to the registration data.

More interestingly, as I headed down the stairs to leave the event, I passed another large screen on which a quick message appeared saying “Goodbye Chuck” and then something about wishing they could help shovel show this winter.

The system linked the data point of me living in Boston with the context of the record amount of snow that fell here last winter.

And that was it: a quick, highly personalized message to draw a smile.

Rather than trying to sell something, the supplier was handily demonstrating what it could do.

A few days later, my son ran a marathon, and sensors or chips can easily be placed almost anywhere, such as inside the bib of a runner. As soon as I watched him cross the finish line, I received a message on my phone saying he had finished and provided the “chip time” it took him to complete the race, along with other contextual information.

I saw another example of connecting earlier this year at the NRF Big Show in a demonstration by SapientNitro. The agency used beacons to determine shopper location and provide targeted information to that consumer.

The novel twist here is that rather than sending smartphone messages, the system changes a video display in a store so that it highlights a particular product or product category based on the profile of the person approaching the screen.

At the annual eTail East, SapientNitro showed another approach of connecting while shopping, by using small RFID tags on products that could be read once placed inside a shopping bag. The idea here is to aggregate all the product data and allow self-checkout.

The growth in the number of connected objects is explosive.

The consumer value is in the power of being connected.

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