What if we took the leading sensor-based products currently being developed or already on the market, put them all under one roof, and added a typical American family? Would they just be the techiest family on the block, or would it have a significant impact on their lives?
Here are six ways this Internet of Things family can see their lives change. They exercise more, save energy and water, budget better, know where their kids are at any moment, and they'll always have the right lighting for activities in the house.
Bank Account-based MotivationWe talked last month about Green Goose, which is a green egg with an ethernet connection that can sense how many miles a person has ridden on their bicycle instead of a car. This data ultimately could be synced up with each family members' bank account. So if they chose to ride a bike instead of a car, an automatic transfer of the allotted monthly gas money saved goes from a checking account into a savings account. Green Goose has plans for other similar sensors.
Health and FitnessWhen it comes to physical fitness, this family has all the devices we explained in our sensors to keep you fit post. From Nike Plus running shoes, which sends running data to Mom's iPod via a sensor, to grandpa's exercise games via Wii Fit to their youngest son's training program via NordicTracks iFit, to Dad's miCoach pacer, this family is being encouraged by sensors to better understand and improve their physical health.
Water ConservationThe Waterpebble is a simple sensor that's placed in the shower. It measures the duration of the first shower, and when the next person takes a shower a green light inside the pebble will turn to orange to let the person know that their shower-time is half way up. Once the shower goes longer than the recorded time, the pebble gives off a red light. The best part is that after each shower the Waterpebble will fractionally reduce the amount of time the person will be allowed to shower. There's also a reset button for when someone in the family is having a bad day and needs a longer shower.
Energy Use ScoreboardAll electrical appliances in this house plug into Picowatt Wi-Fi smart plugs, which allow the family to communicate and control energy usage via a command center like Intel's prototype home energy monitor. This monitor is what the New York Times refers to as an Energy Use Scoreboard, which calculates energy usage and displays costs in real-time. Once this technology hits the market, the family will be able to add a few goal-setting apps to the control panel and they'll have the tools they need to minimize their energy use.
Alert ServicesLast January we reported on Trackle and the emerging era of alert services. In the Internet of Things house not only does Trackle alert the family about vital events and information going on in their neighborhood, but when Mom wants to make sure her daughter gets safely home from school on her own, she simply puts a Touchatag RFID tag in her backpack, which alerts Mom when her daughter is safely home.
Lighting OptimizationFinally, this home's lighting can be regulated by Pachube (pronounced patch-bay) and Arduino. As we reported last summer, light sensors can be connected to Arduino, which is an open-source electronics prototyping platform. The light sensor data is then sent to Pachube, which connects the sensor data to the Web where the lighting can be controlled via twitter or via a home energy monitor.
Overall, it's important to remember that we're still in the early days of Internet of Things. As these products continue to develop we'll find more and more ways for our devices to coax us to refine our health and our environment.