Smart technologies shaping our everyday lives
From smartphones to smart doorbells and event smart pills – ‘smart’ tech is a trend which is increasingly having a positive influence across many diverse sectors. Catchy marketing buzzwords aside, in more technical terms, a smart device is an ‘electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols, such as Bluetooth, NFC, Wi-Fi, LiFi, 3G, etc., that can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.’
With this in mind, SinoScan UK are taking a look at some of the latest smart technologies that could shape our everyday lives in the near future:
Smart pills, also known as digital pills, are medications prescribed to patients that are equipped with edible electronic sensors that can record various physiological measures, such as blood pressure, pH and body temperature when ingested. The technology development is currently focused on two primary functions: wireless patient monitoring and diagnostic imaging.
American manufacturer - Proteus Digital Health – for example, have developed a system consisting of a smartphone, a sensor patch and a pill. Each pill contains a one-square-millimetre sensor that is coated in two digestible metals: copper and magnesium. Upon consumption, the sensor is activated by electrolytes within the body, which then sends signals to the wearable patch, before finally sending a notification to the user’s smartphone - reminding them or their caregiver to prescribe medication. Systems such as these would massively help tackle recurring problems in the health sector, such as patients forgetting to take their meds or prescribing them incorrectly.
Smart cars have arguably seen the biggest developments in the field of smart tech.
Many new cars being sold today already come with several ‘smart’ features built in, such as lane-keep assist, automatic forward-collision braking, back-up cameras and parking sensors – allowing for more efficient and safer driving.
Looking ahead to the future of smart cars, the main theme is autonomy – with self-driving cars set to be the next big thing. Several big names in the industry are currently developing self-driving vehicles – for example, Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler has teamed up with BMW to focus on developing technologies for driver assistance systems, automated driving on highways and parking features; which they aim to sell by the mid-2020s. Daimler also previously announced that it aims to launch driverless robot taxis in the early 2020s.
Other well-known names also developing autonomous cars include Toyota, Audi and Tesla. Tesla have already developed several self-driving vehicles; for example their Model S – a fully electric-powered vehicle – is fitted with 8 cameras, a radar, ultrasonics and a ‘super computer’; allowing users to drive autonomously if they wish to do so.
From tracking heart rate and monitoring emotions, to even paying for the morning coffee – smart clothing offers users a multitude of clever functions.
Google is one of the big names getting behind the trend, having recently launched their $350 commuter jacket in partnership with Levi. By building touch and gesture sensitive areas on the jacket sleeve, users are able to interact with a variety of services including music and map apps – all without having to reach for a mobile device.
Smart home devices
Smart fridges, cameras and locks are just some of the offerings available for home owners and many new homes are now being built with the additional wiring and controls which are required to run these advanced home automation systems.
Amazon’s Echo is a prime example of one of the earliest and most popular home automation systems, which has features such as voice calling, multi-room audio control and local news updates just to name a few.
As it’s predicted that farmers will have to increase their yields by 50% to feed the world’s population in 2050, agriculture has become a big focus for smart technologies in order to meet growing needs of consumers.
German manufacturer Bosch has become a major name in changing the agricultural landscape with its smart spraying and sensor technology. Their ProSyst IoT platform for example has been successfully trialled by farmers in Australia to give precise information on the right times to harvest oysters. To do so, measurement stations in direct proximity of oyster beds register water depth and salinity, as well as temperature and air pressure. Algorithms from The Yield - a Bosch partner – then compile and analyse the data, to determine when to harvest; resulting in less food waste and better quality products.
Another Bosch technology – Plantect – a smart senor which can detect the probability of disease – is another technology set to change how we farm. Plantect sensors installed in the greenhouse measure temperature, leaf moisture, sunlight, and carbon dioxide. Artificial intelligence systems then analyse these values, combine them with weather forecasts, and send warnings to farmers via an app. Bosch claims that the technology can predict greenhouse diseases with ‘92% accuracy’.
Smart technologies are making life easier for many of us already, allowing users to automate a variety of our daily mundane tasks. The technology’s impact is already being felt across many industries where smart tech is no longer just a concept, but instead a reality. Next, it will certainly be interesting to see how the technology develops and crosses over into new, less obvious industries which currently remain largely untouched by IoT. Watch this space…