Just because a new and sophisticated technology comes along doesn't mean it will be widely adopted and used. A great example of this is in mobile payments. Using NFC (near field communication) in mobile phones, which even Apple finally included in its more recent iPhones, a consumer can pay at a store checkout by simply tapping their phone to a checkout terminal.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, chatbots have the potential to one day replace some of the tasks of many humans with programs sophisticated enough to hold seamless conversations with people. Anyone who has chatted with Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa knows that day is not yet totally here. However, some new research shows that there's a big driver to make chatbots work: money.
Wine bottles are getting connected. A Spanish winemaker has launched a national consumer campaign by turning bottles of Castillo de San Diego 'smart bottles.' The winemaker Barbadillo is adding NFC (Near Field Communication) tags to 126,000 bottles, portrayed by the company as the largest global deployment of NFC tags in the wine and spirts industry.
Some employees at a Wisconsin company are going to have chips implanted into them. The company, Three Square Market (32M), announced that it is offering implanted chip technology to all of its employees beginning Aug. 1. Employees who want them will be implanted with an RFID chip allowing them to make purchases in their break room, log in to computers, open doors and use the copy machine. The company is expecting more than 50 employees to be voluntarily chipped by BioHax International from Sweden. This is believed to be the first employee-chipping programming in the U.S.
In somewhat of a twist on the forward motion of the development of self-driving vehicles, there seems to be a movement in vehicles that use a driver, but via remote control. An electric, self-driving truck has been unveiled by a Swedish tech company with the intent of creating 200 of the remote-controlled vehicles. The 'T-Pod' is 23 feet long and has an operating weight of 20 tons, smaller than normal heavy trucks. It's controlled by an operator, but also has the ability to take advantage of a self-driving system, according to Einride, the company making the vehicles.
One of the major promises of the Internet of Things has to do with location. Identifying where a consumer is at any given moment and creating relevant messaging delivered in context has been a marketing goal since forever. Beacons started to help a little in stores over the last few years and, along with Wi-Fi location and the old GPS standby, knowing where a person is has somewhat improved.
Some consumers may have to be paid to use certain smart home devices. Just yesterday, a study came out showing that smart thermostats are gaining traction, with North American sales of the devices increasing 64% in a year. That puts the count of smart thermostats installed in homes at 8 million, as I wrote about here at the time.
The number of so-called smart homes continues to rise by just about any measure. However, a smart home may contain one smart device and or many, some working together, others not. Berg Insight defines a smart home system as one that requires that it has smartphone app or a web portal as a user interface, which makes sense, since the smartphone is the practical hub of the smart home for the foreseeable future.
Curiosity may be a hidden driver of the Internet of Things. Various studies have shown that familiarity with many IoT technologies or products is relatively low. A consumer obviously isn't likely to buy something they don't know about.
AI-powered personal assistant apps are spreading in certain parts of the market while others take a downward turn. While Apple's Siri is still the top-ranking personal app based on the number of monthly users, it has dropped 15%, losing 7 million monthly users from a year ago, based on a new report. Samsung is in a similar situation, losing nearly 2 million users of its S Voice over the same period.