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When you think of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart speakers like Amazon's Alexa and Google Home likely come to mind, but as IBM's John…

Internet of Things

When you think of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home likely come to mind. Their voice command capabilities allow us to do things like set timers while we’re cooking, listen to music, and get the day’s weather report, all without having to press any buttons or use our hands. Innovations in IoT are continuing to make smart home devices even more intelligent, but there are many more use cases for IoT that can help to make our lives easier.

The possibilities for connected devices and IoT technology are endless – below are three examples that might surprise you.

Smart Homes Getting Smarter

I’ve already touched briefly on how smart home speakers can help us complete simple tasks at home, but with advancements in connected technology, we’re seeing some exciting new applications that incorporate other appliances around the house.

Take Whirlpool, which collaborated with IBM to connect their home appliances including washing machines and dishwashers. With IoT, Whirlpool can collect data on how consumers are using their machines, as well as how the machines are responding. This information provides useful feedback for Whirlpool on what needs improvement as well as what’s working well. In the future, it will also be easier for them to make tailored products that fit each customers’ needs.

By connecting any device around the house, companies can turn them into smart appliances that allow them to continue to improve and make them even more useful.

Cognitive commerce: Turning any device into a point of sale

Whether you’re parking your car in a public spot or pulling up to a gas station to fill up your tank, there are several steps you need to take in order to accomplish what you need to get done – whether that’s getting out of your car to put money in the parking meter, or walking inside the gas station to pay for your gas. With IoT and what we call “cognitive commerce,” you can essentially turn any connected device into a way to pay for things.

In the future, this would mean adding your credit card information to your connected car, so that all you would have to do is park in a spot or at the gas station, and your payment information would communicate with the parking meter or gas pump. We’re seeing examples of this already with things like Apple Pay – instead of taking your credit card out of your wallet and swiping it, you just scan your phone to pay for your coffee.

There are many possibilities when it comes to cognitive commerce, and we’ll see more examples of companies turning any device into a point of sale to eliminate steps and make your life easier.

In your work – adjusting personal settings, connect workspaces

In addition to adding more convenience to our personal lives, there are countless ways IoT can help businesses and people at work. With IoT, companies can track and manage inventory in a more streamlined way, access important data about how their employees operate, and track how their products are performing (similar to Whirlpool).

The future of the workplace also lies in the completely connected office, where you can communicate with your team in a more efficient way, get notifications when machine supplies are running low, and more. The dreaded commute to work will also become more bearable as IoT-enabled technology and devices continue to become more advanced. With smart traffic signals and self-driving vehicles, sitting in traffic on your way to work will eventually become a thing of the past.

These are just a few examples of how IoT is improving our lives today, and it will be exciting to see where it will bring us in the next 10 years. As technology continues to become more advanced, we’re going to see a world where IoT touches every aspect of our lives, creating a more connected and productive society.

To learn more and get started on the IBM Watson IoT Platform, click here.