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My potentially foolhardy prediction for 2014

Every year, we’re bombarded with blog posts by people who seem all too eager to make public predictions of what’s going to happen in the year to come, in a world that’s moving at a thousand miles per hour and innovating as it goes.

Well, it’s my turn.We’re yet to see the ‘Internet of Things’ become manifest in the day-to-day lives of consumers, but a few recent changes have paved the way for 2014 to be the year it all kicks off. So, what’s changed?

It’s become cheaper
Connecting possessions to the internet has become affordable and easy to do. Due to high demand from endless start-ups and much bigger companies wanting to connect even the most mundane of your possessions to the internet and each other, companies such as Intel and Qualcomm have created power-efficient chips that allow connection to Wi-Fi and to smartphones through Bluetooth Low Energy.

Alex Hawkinson found Kickstarter-funded success with SmartThings, who’ve since been granted $12.5 million in ‘Series A’ funding. Hawkinson says, “Now, the cost of adding connectivity [to an everyday device] is less than $5, and [these processors and radios] can work on batteries for more than a year.”

Internet-connected, wearable technology is becoming mainstream
Another trend that’s indubitably on the rise is wearable technology (due to be worth $1.5bn by the end of 2014 according to Juniper Research). Everyone categorises wearable tech differently; I’m including everything from Fitbit’s Flex to Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Google Glass. I’m not including Global Hypercolor, Marty McFly’s trainers from Back to the Future 2, or the Iron Man suit (as much as I’d love to).

It’s where the connection technologies and the rise of wearable tech combine that’s of particular interest. The new Jawbone UP24 can wirelessly sync with your smartphone via Bluetooth LE. There’s nothing too special about that on its own (the Fuelband SE does likewise to let you know when you’re close to hitting your daily goals or are being too inactive), but Jawbone are brilliant at working with other apps to make the wristband part of your personal digital ecosystem. The integration with popular calorie counter app MyFitnessPal is a prime example of this.

UP24 now supports IFTTT (‘If This, Then That’), which allows use of the internet to automate responses to certain triggers.

Using IFTTT (pronounced like “gift” without the “g”), you could turn any of the wristband’s functions into triggers. You could start your kettle boiling for your morning cuppa when you start moving around. Setting your UP to ‘sleep mode’ could turn off the lights in your house, or set your laptop to sleep. But that’s just the start.

“You can start to see how this ‘Internet of Me’ can start to work with me at the center with this device here”, said Travis Bogard, Jawbone’s vice president of product management and strategy, during a November briefing in Jawbone’s San Francisco headquarters. “It’s really connected to this broader set of things that might operate in servitude to me.” The idea of using the UP wristband to control other devices was something Bogard had in mind from the start, but he wanted to wait until Bluetooth LE became more widely available – which the latest iPhone releases did.

The desire for IoT is there
As I type this, gadget shops, airport duty-free shops and Apple Stores across the land are selling products from Nest, Sphero, Fitbit, Jawbone, iKettle and the like. I’m sure that there’ll be health, fitness and gadget enthusiasts across the land unwrapping a Wi-Fi enabled package from Santa this year.

It’s widely believed that Apple will be getting into the game this year with both their TV solution and a piece of wearable tech, and I’ve little doubt that Samsung will ensure that their Galaxy Gear II equivalent is there to compete.

The way that companies are referring to it reflects the desire to ‘own’ it; Cisco grandly refer to it as ‘The Internet of Everything’! Perhaps my favourite is from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Greylock Partners, whose data scientist DJ Patil coined the term ‘The Internet of Nouns’. According to Business Insider, the hype has translated into demand by device manufacturers for the right kind of silicon, and chip makers are piling into the market.

With Kickstarter, Indiegogo and other crowd-funding sites providing greater opportunities for start-ups, we’ll be seeing some brilliant experiments fail, and some breaking through. Just ask the aforementioned Alex Hawkinson.One thing’s for sure …2014 is going to be an interesting year for consumers and tech brands, and a challenging one for brands and marketers as they (we) work out how best to evolve with the changing times and growing expectations.

What are your experiences with the ‘Internet of Things’, and how do you see it being most useful to you, or your consumers?

By DMA guest blogger Dan Limb, Planner, The Real Adventure

This blog first appeared on The Real Adventure

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