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Social Innovation

Blurring of environments: the impact of smart technology

The Internet of Things is transforming how we interact with the world around us, helping to make our lives less stressful, more convenient and more time efficient.

The Internet of Things is transforming how we interact with the world around us, with research from Frost & Sullivan forecasting that there will be over 80 billion connected devices by 2020.

As our day-to-day gadgets and smart phones develop faster and better ways to connect to our homes, work and transport systems, they are becoming more useful to our lives.

We can now access and control all parts of our lives at the tap of a finger. There are two areas where smart solutions will bring particular benefits to how we go about our day-to-day lives – firstly, the way we travel, and secondly, how we communicate with our home environment from afar.

Calming the commute

The concept of a commute may soon be a thing of the past as the traditional concept of a work space fades. As mobile internet access becomes faster and cheaper, the option to work from wherever becomes more appealing for workers and employers. This means that the necessity to travel at peak times will fade as workers choose to work remotely for at least part of their day.

Hitachi’s whitepaper on Social Innovation in Transport found that cities that are embracing smart technology will soon provide the best environments for their inhabitants. Apps such as City Mapper are examples of how we can now plan journeys according to live data from across a variety of transport networks. In doing so, they can inform us of delays and therefore minimise the time we spend travelling. In London, this was made possible by the UK Government’s data store public resource which currently sees over 35,000 visits per month from more than 450 travel applications.

Talking to your home

Appliances like the smart fridge offer benefits as they can send texts to let us know exactly what supplies need to be bought. This will save time, money and waste as we will know exactly what we need, avoiding unnecessary purchases. A further benefit will be that we can remotely care for our ageing relatives by ensuring they have the necessary stores at home.

The ideal home temperature can also be achieved from afar with smart thermostats. They are controllable by mobile devices and can ensure that we come home to a warm house without unnecessarily heating it when empty. It is predicted that by 2020, there will be over 30 million smart thermostats in Europe alone as more of us choose to make our lives more comfortable.

Intel have produced an entire smart home system called the Yoga Smart Home, which allows the home owner to remotely control a number of appliances in the home, such as cameras, lights and locks. Its ‘location aware’ software even allows it to monitor the movements of its inhabitants so it can securely lock the doors when we leave and open the gates as we arrive home.

Smarter lives

Far from a distant concept, smart technology that impacts our daily lives is here and we must seize the opportunities that it can now offer us. Whether you’re a business owner hoping to ease the stress of your travelling employees or someone who is just looking forward to a warm home – the Internet of Things has the ability to make our lives less stressful, more convenient and more time efficient.