If you have been watching the Internet of Things news and blogs around the industry you might have seen a slight shift in how IoT is being presented to you now versus how it was sold to you a year ago. What is this shift and most importantly why are we seeing a diversion away from the core of the Internet of Things?
The “Coolness” of the Internet of Things
When the Internet of Things first started to become mainstream after 2015 or so, everyone was focused on how to produce IoT related devices and call them selfs “IoT Companies”. It just became the hot buzzword and trend for most places. We have seen this time and time again, so nothing new with that! What we did see however was a strong focus on relating use cases to potential customers, this would, in turn, drive the product or solution forward.
Out of the gate, first (in the mainstream of course) was a drive toward retail solutions, and physical interactions to drive marketing. A new technology was born Bluetooth Smart also known as Bluetooth Low Energy or BLE was being used in something called a “beacon”. Apple drove this home by creating what we all know now as iBeacon. All Apple did was layer a specification on top of the BLE protocol and created a standard. So, what does this retail solution look like, or what did it look like?
IoT Retail Use Case
Let’s say you have a favorite store, and you also have that stores iPhone or Android app installed so you can get deals like coupons or sales reminders. Now, you just got a sales notification on your phone, so you stop by this store on the way home from work.
You enter the store and visit the product or products that are on sale near the back of the store. After looking over the products that you got the notification for, you get an alert on your phone that says “Buy today and get another 10% off!”. You think to yourself, wow that’s great timing! But after another 10 minutes of looking at the sales product, you decide its still just too much so you walk away.
As you get to the front of the store you get another application alert that says “For being a loyal customer take an additional 15% off”, think wow 25% off this product is pretty good! So you go back grab one and checkout with your new coupon.
Whats happing in this example?
If you are from the Internet of Things space you will quickly understand but for the rest of us, what is going on here? Is it just great timing on marketings part?
The example above is all IoT driven, what you may not realize is that application on your phone is looking for the iBeacons like we just learned about above. The phone application is not only a tool to deliver great deals and loyalty points its a way from the store to track your movement and what products you might come near while in the store. They can also track how long you stayed near a product, in the example the person got near the sales product and then was delivered an alert with “Buy today and get another 10% off!”. This is because the retailer put an iBeacon near the sales product and your phone saw this and reported back to some cloud service that you are: In the store, and near the product. At that point, the phone app waited for you to leave the product and counted how long you had been there before crossing an “exit” iBeacon (Just an iBeacon near the exit of the store.) The application then made the decision that you spent over 15 minutes near the sales product but did not use the previous coupon and are exiting the store, so it threw you an additional 15% off to try and get you back to the product. In our example, this worked, the person went back to the product and used the 25% off coupon.
Seems crazy cool right?
Look, “cool” does not do that justice, maybe “amazingly awesome” or something to that nature?? Anway, this was all Internet of Things driven, from the iBeacons to the communication between the phone and the cloud service. There is a wealth of data to be collected in this simple interaction between a person and the shop visit but, as I stated above, we are seeing a diversion and move away from the core of the Internet of Things.
What is pulling our attention away from IoT?
With new hot buzzwords being born every other day we only see a few sticks and get picked up by the masses. For example, AI or Artificial Intelligence or AR – Augmented Reality, and everyone’s favorite right now Blockchain. Now, I am not saying that the above technologies have not brought us anything good or cool. What I am saying is that now we see companies not want IoT, they want IoT with AI or IoT and Blockchain. Soon the terms become connected so much so that when someone mentions IoT they think about AI. This is because its now being sold this way to companies.
The Internet of Things is hard to relate to people, so by adding in something “magical” or “black box” like AI or Blockchain, it add’s and even thinker layer of mystery to the whole solution. All you have to say now is AI, you know, IBM has Watson… People go “Oh yeah, we need that!”, because they don’t want to seem dumb and ask “What will that do for me?” In our Example above, we used no AI, no Blockchain, only IoT and some “old fashioned” software.
Why are we seeing this distraction? To be continued… Part 2!
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