The notion of thermostats which can be controlled via an iPad or street lamps that use motion sensors to detect when people are near might sound like science fiction but they are now science fact in the brave new world of 2013.
Speaking at Cisco Live in Melbourne, the vendor’s senior vice president, Carlos Dominquez, spoke about some of his favourite new technologies which use the Internet.
“There is a prediction that there will be a lot of connected devices, especially as we move to sensor networks and they will generate a lot of data,” he said.
“One of the things about all of these devices is that they are simple to use, generate information and data.”
One of these devices is the Nest thermostat which Dominquez demonstrated.
Nest is placed on a wall and the user adjusts the temperature to suit their needs for one week. By doing that for one week the thermostat will learn what the user’s habits are because it has Wi-Fi access and a motion sensor.
“It is able to modify the settings automatically and guarantee you a 25 per cent reduction in your energy costs,” he said.
Dominquez was able to control a Nest thermostat running in his New York apartment via an iPad. He switched Nest from the `away’ state to on and turned up the heat in two rooms.
According to Dominquez, the Internet of Things has "truly arrived" when a light bulb is connected to the Web.
Consumers buy the Hue light bulbs and a puck. In the puck is an Ethernet connector which `talks’ wirelessly to an iPad.
“It comes with some pre-sets so if I want to get funky I can change the colour of the light bulbs," he said. "What is very powerful is that you can program this to change moods and you have total control.”
Turning to the notion of connected lamp posts, he said there are trials underway in the US with street lights that have sensors embedded. As a pedestrian draws near to the light, the sensor detects that they are there and increases the level of light.
“There is a speaker in the top of the lamp post so you can talk to people if you need to. The street lights also have digital signage and a chip that connects back to a smart grid.”
Another connected city project which has been rolled out in New York is the street line sensor.
“What happens with this sensor is that it gets embedded into the ground and starts detecting metal when a car is parked in the space,” Dominquez said
“If I’m heading into New York I am able to see what spots are available via an iPhone app and I can pay for the spot using my phone as well.”
Another emerging category in the Internet of Things is wearable devices. One product on the market is the Nike FuelBand which tells the wearer when they have reached their exercise goal for the day.
If the user has friends with Fuel bands they can share exercise data and compete against each other via the Internet.
Another example is the Lark band which is designed to monitor what people eat. It also monitors sleep patterns and wakes the wearer up.
“We’re all going to be wearing some sort of device in the near future,” said Dominquez.
Hamish Barwick travelled to Cisco Live in Melbourne as a guest of Cisco
Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick