The Internet of Things covers a large group of components with a functional interconnection to other devices using either Bluetooth or a dedicated wireless Internet connection. These IoT components are used to trigger autonomous events.
Smartphones and tablets require direct input typically through a touch-screen interface to control applications which are dedicated to specific functions.
There are several applications available now that can be used to control automated devices, many of which fall into the category of IoT components. IoT components are typically automated devices that differ from other internet connected devices in that they do not require frequent human interaction to trigger events.
IoT has Defined a New Wave of Innovative Devices
To fully grasp the concept of how the Internet of Things has defined a new wave of innovative devices that is changing the way we live, we need to look more specifically at the evolution of popular cellular devices.
Reflecting on Milestones
Reflecting on milestones and looking at practical uses for mobile devices can help to provide a better understanding of the role smartphones and tablets play as major components for controlling IoT systems. We can also understand a little more about the reason why the Internet of Things is beginning to generate such a buzz. We may even be able to predict what is in store for the future by considering how cell phones have evolved.
To understand the direction we are headed with these automated systems we need to think about what purpose cell phones first served and how they were originally used. We also need to consider the series of events that opened the doors for the development of dedicated apps that allow smartphones and tablets to manipulate automated devices.
Connected Devices Change the Way We Live
Years ago it probably would have been difficult to imagine how smartphones, tablets, and automated devices could be used to keep up with the responsibilities of daily life. It would also probably be difficult to fathom how subsequent automated devices could have so drastically altered the way we live today.
The Evolution of Cellular Devices
Early Technology Types
A little over a decade ago cellphones were just beginning to take off. People were still learning about multi-tap texting and qwerty keyboards had not yet been adopted. Touch-screen phones were nowhere near in existence.
The Motorola Razor Phone
During this time, the Motorola Razor phone was the most popular cell phone on the market. It was one of the most sought after phones for about five years even after it began to decline in popularity and new technology types were being developed. People were attracted to the first generation Razor not just for it’s sleek looking clam-shelled physique but for it’s strong antenna.
The Nokia 6010
If you were paying attention to cellular technology during this time you might also remember the beloved, trusty old Nokia 6010. It was a “candy-bar” style phone with a simple design.
It was known for having the strongest antenna for cell phone reception alongside the Motorola Razor phone. People also loved that phone for its simplicity and indestructibility. It was difficult to pry that phone out of peoples’ hands.
Teaching 80-Year-Olds to Text-message
When cellphones were first starting to become popular people still had to be sold on the idea of finding practical uses for the extended features of their phones to justify switching from basic phones to smartphones. Now the market is saturated though, and smartphones sell themselves.
Now it’s not easy to imagine teaching 80-year-olds to text using the multi-tap technique, where you punch one button however many times within the second to get that letter to populate, and selling them $5.00 text messaging packages so that they could communicate with their grandchildren. However, these days the mature crowd automatically turns to smartphones and tablets as easy solutions for their communication needs.
Switching Technology Types
There was a bit of resistance getting consumers to switch technology types. Even when the technology type was changing from 2G to 3G and then 3G to 4G and invitations offering free devices to these customers were being sent out, it was still difficult to get a lot of them to make the switch.
Many of us are creatures of habit. People adopt and adapt. Once people get used to something and learn to rely on it for everyday use, it can make it difficult to want to change because that means that there is an adjustment period.
This slows people down, and there is also room for error. When people rely on their cellular devices to run their businesses, they run the risk of losing money by not being familiar with the features on their cell phones.
The Original Purpose of Cell Phones
We forget the original intent of portable phones was to make communication more convenient. Consumers sought to use their devices anywhere they could find an adequate signal. Aside from being exceedingly difficult for many people to text with, the first cell phones with GPRS services had painfully limited web browsing capabilities.
Navigating the web was not only tedious on small screens but network speeds were just not yet up to par.
Smartphones, Quick Messaging Phones, and Basic Phones
In the beginning, basic phones were the only option. Now, there are three different categories of cell phone types. They are basic cell phones, quick messaging phones, and smartphones.
Basic phones use a mobile version of the web and typically come in “candy bar” or “flip” forms. Quick messaging phones also use a mobile version of the web and usually come equipped with QWERTY keyboards that at least make browsing the web a tad bit easier than with basic phones.
However, many people may have forgotten that mobile devices equipped with full HTML web browsing capabilities originally separated smartphones from quick messaging and basic cell phones. This was before the development of robust mobile applications with advanced capabilities.
Before full html web browsing capabilities, the earliest smartphones such as those manufactured by Palm, HP, Blackberry, and Audiovox functioned more like PDAs, or electronic personal organizers. They too, were complicated, slow, and lacked adequate support to be used to the capacity that we are seeing smartphones used today.
The First Generation iPhone
It wasn’t until the very first generation iPhone emerged that smartphones really began to evolve. Although Apple set the bar with the most innovative mobile device of its time, in retrospect, the original iPhone came with an unusually small selection of applications.
The Development and Adoption of Smartphone Applications
Mobile applications are dedicated software programs that are typically downloaded and accessed from smartphones and tablets. Now there are almost 3,000,000 available Android apps alone. Apple trails behind them with about 1,000,000 less.
Apple continued to contribute to major advancements in mobile software technology with the addition of downloadable applications from 3rd parties. Even though 3rd party apps were becoming readily available for IOS, they still had strict standards to meet that made it difficult for a lot of 3rd party developers to get their apps approved. This made room for competitors such as Google, Blackberry, and Nokia.
Nokia: Windows Mobile
Nokia paired up with Microsoft to update the Windows Mobile operating system. Google, however, really took the lead in releasing an abundance of applications that outdid Apple. They accomplished their objective by developing Android, a Linux-based operating system, which was adopted by popular manufacturers such as Samsung, L.G., HTC, Sony, and Motorola.
Blackberry tried to hang in there with “Blackberry World”. There were a decent amount of people who were very loyal to their brand. They had a leg up on instilling peace of mind for being reputable as the most secure smartphones because of their encryption technology and secured servers.
Transferring info from phone to phone was a nightmare with Blackberries partly because of their strict security standards and as other brands became more popular they fell behind. It became nearly impossible to find decent support for Blackberry devices without costing an arm and a leg.
Essentially, Google capitalized on the development of the Android operating system as an alternative “open-source” marketplace without such strict rules. This gave developers the freedom to create apps that could also be downloaded on more devices since Android was the operating system of choice for almost all other smartphone manufacturers aside from Apple or Nokia. This opened the door for anyone with the desire to create applications, to do so.
Present-Day Smartphone Use
Increased Productivity: Portability, Convenience, and Instant Gratification
Technological advancements over the past decade have created the need for individuals to adapt to faster-paced lifestyles ultimately increasing productivity. We depend on smartphones, tablets, and other connected devices for portability, convenience, and instant gratification.
A Hub for Information
Recent technological advancements have dramatically changed the way people function and live. We are now able to access endless amounts of information on just about any topic of interest with little effort. We continue to see advancements in mobile technology to this day.
Remote Access for Controlling Automated Devices
Smartphones were originally intended to make communication more convenient but have since evolved to function as tools for gaining access to endless amounts of information. Now software applications designed specifically for use with mobile technology are being used to manage automated devices. Since we have become familiar with practical uses for this new technology we’ve become increasingly dependent on our smartphones, tablets, and automated devices as tools for optimizing daily tasks.
Smartphones and Tablets are being used to assist with installing components of popular IoT systems. We can use smartphones and tablets to access advanced settings to personalize the operation of these IoT components that make up these complex systems.
We rely on dedicated mobile applications to analyze and interpret data that is collected by these automated devices. We use these apps to monitor and control our environments. Smartphones and tablets provide remote access to IoT systems such as home security components, lighting systems, and netcams for streaming video and more.
Processing Data to Trigger Events
IoT components can also include automated devices such as Nokia’s Hair Coach. Considering these types of devices, IoT more specifically includes devices that are programmed to automatically collect data that is then stored in a database and recalled to trigger events when certain specifications are met. Nokia’s smart hairbrush is programmed to trigger feedback when processing certain types of environmental data.
Expect Software Updates and New Applications
After the release of first generation devices we can expect additional software advancements. New sub-markets are already being developed to satisfy the demands for access to advanced features that provide extended capabilities for automated devices. Once consumers have found practical uses for these devices we are likely to see the further development of software updates and advancements in software applications.
Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot are a good example of automated devices that have recently been opened up to 3rd party developers for the creation of new “skills” or voice commands.
The Echo began to develop new skills much like how Apple and then Google, first allowed 3rd party developers to create apps for their devices. When the Echo was first released voice commands were very limited but now there are somewhere in the ballpark of close to 5,000 skills and growing.
IFTT Provides the Ultimate Futuristic Experience
IFTT is an application that is based on if and then statements. This application has made it possible to connect more devices and trigger more events than one could probably ever imagine. Do you have a favorite use for the IFTT application? What is your favorite IFTT recipe and why?
Did you ever think that today we would have access to the types of environmental controls that we have seen in some of these futuristic sci-fi settings from the past? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Look for a future article that discusses how the IFTT app fits into the growing world of IoT.