Internet of Things

Global Internet of Things Day - The Drum looks at some of the 'things' already online


By Gillian West, Social media manager

April 9, 2014 | 4 min read

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the idea that everything in your life is connected to the internet in some way, shape, or form constantly transmitting data and communicating with one another.

Coined in 2009 the IoT phrase has since gained such traction that today (9 April 2014) is Global Internet of Things Day.

In order to mark this occasion The Drum takes a look at some currently taking advantage of the IoT which is predicted to grow to 31bn connected devices by 2020.

Fridges/Washing Machines

Smart fridges and washing machines are designed to make household chores easier. Smart fridges on the market feature LCD touchscreens, cameras and an internet connection which allow owners to download recipes and link up to online shopping services. The idea behind the smart fridge is that is manages food shopping by scanning barcodes and then monitors its contents automatically, helpfully suggesting when stocks are running low. Smart fridges can also suggest recipes based on leftover ingredients. Smart washing machines work in a similar manner and can send text alerts before starting the final cycle to ensure you’re poised for unloading with buttons to help you order soap powder and fabric softener online.


Talking toilets with heated seats aren’t exactly a new thing, well in Japan at least, but Toto’s Intelligence Toilet II takes it things to a whole new level analysing data such as weight, BMI, blood pressure and blood sugar level. A ‘sample catcher’ within the bowl obtains urine samples and beams pertinent information to your computer which, with the help of a doctor, can then be used to monitor your health and provide early detection for some medical conditions. Graphs created from the results can highlight fluctuating glucose levels and temperatures which can be used by diabetics to time insulin shots or hormone levels for women concerned with their menstrual cycle.


According to reports from September last year a farm in Essex has begun connecting its cows to the internet in order to help the farmer detect illnesses amongst his cattle. The Cow Tracking Project uses data from radio positioning tags to monitor the herd’s behaviour. Any changes to behaviour or unusual activity can then be pinpointed enabling the farmer to check if the animal has become lame or picked up an infection.

Thermostats and Smoke Alarms

Nest Labs, the company founded by iPod creator Tony Fadell in 2010, claims to reinvent "unloved but important home products", such as the thermostat and smoke alarm. Nest’s thermostat learns your schedule, programming itself to adjust temperature settings around your needs. They can also be controlled via smartphones and other devices for remote operation and claim to lower heating bills by 20 per cent. Nest smoke alarms on the other hand aim to prevent the safety issues which arise when people remove smoke alarms all together because of incessant beeping and low battery chirps. Instead of crying wolf whenever you burn the toast Nest smoke alarms give subtle warnings and can be connected to your smart phone for handy low battery reminders, emergency information through a 'What to do’ feature' and on-the-go messages if something happens when you’re away from home.


American company BigBelly aims to revolutionise waste management with its BigBelly Trash Compactors which use solar power to compact rubbish at the point of disposal. Once the bin is full a message this then sent to the collectors to come and empty the bin recording how often it’s emptied, how full it is at any given time, what the rubbish volume was on specific dates. The result of this technology is less collection trips needs to be made, reducing fuel consumption and emissions and bins are never left to overflow. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg recently installed 30 BigBelly Trash Compactors as part of a pilot in Times Square, New York.
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