In 1998, I wrote my first business plan which was about technology and architecture. At the time, I had graduated from Architecture school and was working with Sprint on a data warehousing implementation. It got me thinking about how to create a series of connected devices and link them to an enterprise system to manage that data for a smart home. At the time, I think people thought I was crazy.
Jump forward 15 years and it all seems to make more sense. For example:
- You have LG rolling out appliances that you can text commands to.
- You have connected toothbrushes like the Kolibree.
- You have smart sports equipment like the tennis racket from Babolat and the smart basketball from 94Fifty.
- You have smart forks from Hapifork.
- You have Nest which is a smart thermostat and now has a smart smoke alarm.
- You have smart lightbulbs.
- You have all kinds of devices like FitBit and wearable technology for everything from your dog to your baby.
- You have companies like Corning working on smart glass (see video below).
- You have telemedicine from companies like American Well, MDLive, and Teladoc.
- You have remote patient monitoring solutions like Healthsense working on smart beds, toilets, and other sensors that track motion and other activities in the home.
- You have smart pill bottles. You have smart pills with companies like Proteus Digital Health.
Now, this type of connectivity is called the Internet of Things (#IoT) which based on Wikipedia is:
“The Internet of Things (or IoT for short) refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term Internet of Things was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 2009. The concept of the Internet of Things first became popular through the Auto-ID Center at MIT and related market analysis publications. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) was seen as a prerequisite for the Internet of Things in the early days. If all objects and people in daily life were equipped with identifiers, they could be managed and inventoried by computers. Besides using RFID, the tagging of things may be achieved through such technologies as near field communication, barcodes, QR codes and digital watermarking.
Equipping all objects in the world with minuscule identifying devices or machine-readable identifiers could transform daily life. For instance, business may no longer run out of stock or generate waste products, as involved parties would know which products are required and consumed. A person’s ability to interact with objects could be altered remotely based on immediate or present needs, in accordance with existing end-user agreements.
According to Gartner there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. According to ABI Research more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (Internet of Everything) by 2020. Cisco created a dynamic “connections counter” to track the estimated number of connected things from July 2013 until July 2020 (methodology included). This concept, where devices connect to the internet/web via low power radio is the most active research area in IoT.”
Or, if you prefer McKinsey to Wikipedia, here’s their article about the Internet of Things:
“More objects are becoming embedded with sensors and gaining the ability to communicate. The resulting information networks promise to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks.”
With all the buzz about Google’s buses and catamaran’s to ship their workers to the GooglePlex, it got me thinking about them creating a smart city. They could have their smart cars running around. They could even create a scalable version of smart roads that re-charge the electric cars eliminating the need for charging stations. Or maybe, this would be something for Elan Musk who has his HyperLoop vision and Tesla Motors. This could even play into the Green (or Sustainable) Architecture effort. I could one day imagine a home recycling station that turned your used plastic into materials that could be used in your 3D printers.
Of course, the key is a core infrastructure that manages all of this data and starts to create algorithms for how to use it. Image being able to log in and get information about your house, your kids, your community, and your health. Some things are already out there and being developed.
- Mother is a technology that summarizes all of this data and pulls it together for people to use and monitor.
- Twine monitors your home and provides you with information such as your garage door is left open.
- Ninja Sphere is another solution for controlling your home devices.
- Thing Worx is another solution focused on this connected house.
- Cisco has a section dedicated to the Internet of Things.
- Qualcomm and Verizon and others are getting into the health space, and you have companies like ADT or Time Warner that are already in the home and could expand into the health space.
The other thing that all this data drives is the need for insights. It’s no good to have data without the ability to turn it into knowledge. This is again something that Google knows a lot about. Imagine having a connected team of physicians that monitor your health based on your sleep patterns, your adherence, your exercise, and other key metrics such as blood pressure. Imagine a dietician that monitored your food and gave you ideas about how to eat better. There are lots of ways for the data to be used in an obviously Big Brother way, but if that could be turned on and off, then we could gain the insights without having to give up all our privacy.
But, in general, many people are willing to trade privacy for insights. That’s what we do every day.
This idea of the Smart Home or Connected Home or Intelligent Home got me thinking over the holidays. I even emailed Pulte Homes and Lennar Homes to see if they were doing anything in this space. (They didn’t respond.) I did stumble upon Home For Life Solutions which seems to be thinking about some of this and was talking about this back in 2009 in an article about Smart Homes and Aging in Place. I was talking to a friend on Friday, and he shared with me some very cool things that The Villages in Florida is doing to incorporate health into their community.
I can see so many opportunities here especially around the concept of Aging in Place. Imagine all the Baby Boomers getting older and wanting to stay in their homes. I’m not sure what Calico is going to do, but this could be an opportunity for them.
In a recent issue of TIME, Page discussed how Calico will treat aging and related diseases. He didn’t reveal much about the methodology, but stressed that Calico’s team will “shoot for the things that are really, really important.” The goal for Calico’s research according to Page, is to help prevent many diseases and have a greater impact on public health than drugs that target individual diseases. (from MedCity News)
Of course, this is why the concept of Seaside came to me. A small, planned community where you live, work, and play. There is also research by the CDC on healthy sustainable communities. And, of course, there’s the efforts to create Blue Zones as communities.
Imagine if this community existed. You would be able to create your own insurance company. You could offer discounts. You could do the same with life insurance. It could be like the Snapshot from Progressive.
And, there is so much more opportunity:
- When you drive into your driveway, why can’t your garage door recognize you. Why do you have to press a button to open the garage?
- Why can’t my purchases at the store be tracked online so I always know what I have and what I need?
- Why can’t a smart cookbook recommend a recipe for tonight based on what food is at home, what food’s about to expire, and what I ate for lunch to create a balanced menu and caloric mix?
- Why can’t my devices order my prescriptions for me when I’m low?
- Why can’t my calendar automatically reschedule my doctor’s appointment when something else comes up?
- Why can’t my running shoes automatically order a new pair of shoes when the cushioning gets low due to too many miles?
One day, this will all happen where our house will be smart. It will understand what I like in terms of lighting, shows, and music. It will tap into my devices. And, I’ll be able to get monitored and insights that improve my life. And, best of all, this will be done in a sustainable way that improves the environment and our quality of life.
So…maybe I can get Google or someone else excited about this idea! It will take someone with a big vision to change the world, but I think it’s a huge opportunity!