Can you turn down the thermostat from your smartphone? Are you wearing a Fit Bit®? Does your smartphone help you locate an available conference room at work? “Yes” to any of these means you’re experiencing the Internet of Things (IoT). Although the term has been used in technology circles for years, it’s only now becoming the focus of more mainstream discussions.
WHAT IS THE INTERNET OF THINGS?
Kevin Ashton is believed to have introduced the term at MIT in 1999. Simply put, the IoT is the rapidly expanding concept of connecting people and things. It relies on Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth-enabled objects, sensors pulling information from the object, a wireless internet connection, and resources compiling, analyzing, and visualizing the collected data.
Several factors are contributing to the explosion of the IoT. Broadband Internet is more widely available and the cost to connect continues to drop. More devices are Wi-Fi enabled with smaller, less costly, and more powerful sensors. The costs to analyze data are coming down, and smartphone penetration is skyrocketing. All of these contribute to the IoT.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE WORKPLACE?
IoT applications fall into two broad categories:
Basically, a “system of systems,” already used in buildings today. Sensors adjust window shades and temperature based on sunlight entering the building. Embedded sensors monitor mechanical systems to improve efficiencies and sense failures before they occur.
Today, security badges are linked to a central database. Swiped at a card reader, the user is recorded entering and/or leaving the building. Compiled data may measure use and occupancy of the building. For some, a user’s smartphone provides presence awareness—who the user is, where the user is in the building, available workspaces relative to the user, where colleagues are located, and a path to reach them.
Imagine a range of workplace applications for the IoT as devices continue to shrink, tech-nologies become more powerful, and costs continue to fall:
- “Push” workplace information (temperature, light, noise levels) to users based on personal preferences and work to be completed.
- Support wellness by alerting users it is time to move/stand based on real-time biometrics.
- Improve meeting effectiveness by alerting leaders when participants’ biometric data indicates they’re not alert, connected, or paying attention.
- Enhance sustainability by applying actual use and occupancy data to manage building infrastructure.
- Improve flexibility using real-time data to drive workplace change and reconfiguration.
- Monitor wellness programs based on individual biometric data pulled from wearables, smart phones, or sensors embedded in seating or height-adjustable tables.