CES: Digitizing Your Environment via the ‘Internet of Things’

As social media has become a ubiquitous medium for interacting with our closest confidants and broader audiences, we have become accustomed to digitizing all sorts of personal info, from contact lists to our current mood. The 2015 CES looks poised to showcase the evolution of this digitization process, with eyes firmly fixed on our personal surroundings. In addition to the cultural effects of the anticipated “sensorization” revolution, other tech is striving to make it a reality at home, on the road and everywhere in between.

The bulk of the sensors used in these devices, while obviously more advanced, have not changed fundamentally in quite some time. Accelerometers give the system an idea of how fast it’s moving and which way it’s oriented, radio frequency tags and GPS yield more absolute location data, while Bluetooth connects the device wirelessly to its surroundings.

streamingThe widespread availability, low price point and low power requirements of these small chips, however, have allowed for integration at an unprecedented scale. Combining this with the reality that everyone carries a networked, mobile computing hub with them wherever they go in the form of a smartphone and the stage is set for unique new solutions to daily annoyances as well as truly personalized data delivery.

As a result, algorithms and service-based apps could be a big draw this year as the race is on to make meaningful use of the mountains of data flooding in from these devices.

A couple of infrastructure spaces to watch this year will be delivery of connectivity and power. The G.hn protocol, which promises high-speed Internet connectivity over any line (phone, coax or even power), could provide a big boost to connected appliances.

The Paper Battery Company, on the other hand, is touting the long-gestating use of supercapcitors to augment power storage. These ultra-compact devices can charge quickly and deliver high peak power, allowing batteries to last longer and charge faster.

A few of the systems making pre-show noise are BMW’s newest i3, with laser-guided, remote parking and Volkswagen’s new infotainment and touch control technologies. Lynx SmartGrill, meanwhile, will cook your breakfast, while Fitbug hopes to provide a fitness coach by linking to your active wearables and fridge.

As far as manufacturers go, however, it seems Samsung is set to grab opening headlines in the space by building its keynote around its ecosystem for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The ETC reporting team will be in Las Vegas next month to cover these and related technologies. In the meanwhile, for more on how IoT may impact our everyday lives, check out George Gerba’s pre-show post.

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