Some of the innovations unveiled at CES this year show that The Internet of Things is causing some of the lines to blur.
In numerous cases, the idea of one device doing one thing is falling by the wayside. Or maybe more accurately, it’s that a device designed to do one thing is now branching out into other areas.
With so many connections and so many capabilities that can be baked into products and services, it’s only natural that an entity can expand its products so that they begin to overlap someone else’s.
One example is the new Fitbit Blaze, introduced with great fanfare. The device is now billed as a smart fitness watch. Not a smartwatch and not a fitness tracker. It essentially is both.
This blurring is nothing new. It happed a while back when camera technology improved so much that taking photos using a smartphone became somewhat of the norm.
And two appliance manufacturers, although taking somewhat different approaches, are branching out. The new Samsung refrigerator will allow consumers to order groceries from the appliance, extending its reach into what was the arena of the PC or, in more recent years, the smartphone.
Meanwhile, Whirlpool displayed its new refrigerator that doesn’t deal with food ordering but rather provides self-monitoring technology so that a consumer can tell what is wrong, perhaps make a minor repair themselves or, at the very least, let the repair services know what’s wrong by relaying a code provided by the refrigerator.
A scale that used to only measure your weight now measures all kinds of information, stores it historically and provides an overview via a smartphone dashboard. The scale, at least in the case of the Qardio, is now called a smart scale and body analyzer.
Those lights, formerly used only to make a room brighter, now become part of a network.
There were countless other examples at CES.
As the IoT market evolves, the role of what product will be best to execute what thing will evolve.
Until then, expect many connected objects to branch out beyond their initial purpose.
Some may even
find a totally new purpose. And that would likely be good for the market.
This column was previously published in Connected Thinking on January 6, 2016.