IoT Design Considerations: Size

Many manufacturers start testing the IoT waters by modifying their existing product designs to add networking technologies. Because these devices already exist, many early entrants into the IoT world fail to redesign the product to effectively allow for its newly added connectivity. Fortunately, there are a number of compact modules available for networking technologies that will fit in a manufacturer’s existing products.

These small modules vary. Some are surface mount, others through-hole, or pin-header and some still use a specialized mating connector. Also, how the network connector or antenna connector are integrated into the product differ from module to module. Designers must consider the space they have available on their circuit boards and/or in the product’s enclosures to allow whatever technology selected to be used in existing designs.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

IoT Design Considerations: Features

The IoT allows companies to add features to their product that were never possible before. These features have a wide range of benefits and functions including automatic software updates (over-the-air), smart home and office connectivity, reminders for maintenance, special offers, recall notices and upgrades, remote or local access and control. It is also important that designers work with their marketing team to be sure the features desired are not limited by the hardware and networking technologies selected.

These features extend new benefits to manufacturers as well. The features that consumers use can provide manufacturers with valuable insight about the application of their products. For example, a washing machine may have 20 different functions on it, but because it is connected to the IoT, the manufacturer can learn which functions the consumer uses and improve the washer’s product design. This same connected washing machine can also contact its owner when a part is starting to fail and needs to be fixed. These new features also open the manufacturer to additional revenue streams presented by the data collected from the smart device. A company that sells a connected washing machine can sell data on detergent use to the companies that carry those products.

To download the complete Internet of Things Design Considerations White Paper, click here.

Why Devices Need Animal Instincts Provided by the IoT

Many of you probably have smart phones in your pocket or possibly smart thermostats at home, but for the most part, objects in our lives today are unintelligent and not connected.

Out in nature, animals use their senses to survive. They are looking for movement, listening for predators and using their sense of smell to track prey. All of these are instincts animals and humans have deep in our brains. The problem with computers is that they rely heavily on humans for the information around them.

So how do you give a computer a brain? Or how about natural, animalistic instincts?

At its core, the Internet of Things (IoT) is about using sensors and networking technology to connect computers and give them similar kinds of animal "instincts." Then, like those animals and humans, computers can understand the context of the world around them. Understanding that information around them and allows the computers to react appropriately, whether is is by alerting their user of a problem, lowering the temperature when a room gets too hot, or starting the coffee maker when your alarm goes off in the morning.

Computers understanding what is going on around them, lessens their dependence on humans and allows for much more intelligent and exciting devices.

How the Past Relates to the Future Promise of the IoT

This concept of the Internet of Things (IoT) was first introduced by technology pioneer, Kevin Ashton, while working at Procter and Gamble. In the late 1990s, Procter and Gamble had a big problem with their supply chain and Kevin Ashton was looking to solve this problem using RFID technology. It was a concept way ahead of its time. Kevin Ashton then went on to found the Auto-ID Center at MIT to further advance this concept. Since then, the IoT gained a ton of momentum as sensor and networking equipment has become cheaper, smaller and more energy efficient. As we move beyond machines relying on humans, we are able to add connectivity to all sorts of new devices. By providing devices with better information, us humans are able to stay more informed, automate and take action like never before.

This is really not the first time we have seen automation in our lives though. Before we take a look at where the IoT is going, let’s take a look back.

In the early 20th century, electricity was starting to be introduced into the home and with this came a lot of new innovations. For instance:

  • The first lightweight, electric iron was introduced in 1903.
  • The first refrigerator was introduced in 1913. The first electric dishwasher was also introduced around that time.
  • In 1919, the world saw the first automatic, pop-up toaster that came from an innovator who was tired of burnt and inconsistent toast.
  • The 1930s saw the first washing machines and dryers.
  • In 1952, there was the first automatic coffee pot.
  • In 1963, GE introduced the first self-cleaning oven.

These devices were created by innovators looking to save time, energy and frustration from manual tasks. People saw what could be done with electricity and started to innovate. When those first devices, such as the electric iron, were made available, it made people think about what could come next.

An interesting story from this era comes from a woman named Josephine Cochrane. She was a wealthy housewife who invented the first automatic dishwasher. As a woman with servants and maids, why would she need an automatic dishwasher? The answer is simple. She got tired of her dishes being chipped and damaged while being hand washed. Josephine said to herself, “If nobody is going to invent an automatic dishwasher, I am.” She did just that.

The promise of IoT is just like this. As problems in everyday life are identified, companies are jumping up to say, "I'm going to fix them!" Companies are already utilizing resources to save time, energy and frustration by building on current technologies to propel the IoT into the future. 

How Naperville-based Grid Connect fits into the Internet of Things

In a nondescript Naperville office park, Adam Justice is working to bring the Internet of Things to the masses. He’s vice president of Grid Connect, a company his father Mike founded in 2003 that makes, distributes and sells commercial networking products. In 2013, Grid Connect launched ConnectSense, its first line of wireless sensors for home use to remotely monitor things, from your lights to your water pipes. As the company prepares to launch a ConnectSense smart electrical outlet, Adam Justice shares his vision for a connected future.

Read more at the Chicago Tribune or download the PDF now.