Connected Products Gone Wild and My Garmin Vortex: IoT stuff you need . . . and some stuff not so much . . .
We at Schneider, along with everyone else, have spent time trying to understand the impact of IoT. It seems most people at this point recognize the value of having devices and data. Of course, Schneider wants to provide infrastructure to support this ecosystem.
As a global energy management leader, Schneider is devoted to ensuring data centers and the emerging hybrid cloud ecosystems are robust. Our industry will handle whatever the future of IoT demands and it will demand plenty. There are varying estimates but one I saw said humans will have 20.8 billion connected things by 2020. This is advanced technology and it comes with big time expectations.
We also believe there is a generational change in expectations of availability of IT applications.
However, like any innovative technology, there are bound to be areas of overreach. So, we did a little research on connected products and discovered some interesting devices.
Some self-absorbed self-reflection
When we started this project someone on my staff asked me about my Garmin watch. Did I like it?
A bit of history . . .
Like many others, I like to run. According to my Garmin Connect file, the first run I registered was on September 26, 2009 (with a Forerunner 405 in case you are interested). At the time, I only used the watch when I ran – the rest of the time it sat idle. But gradually, I felt like I was getting sucked into what I call the Garmin Vortex. By that I mean: if I wasn’t wearing my watch and a heart strap then maybe the run didn’t really happen. Like the proverbial “If a tree falls in the woods and no one hears, did it make any noise?” . . . if one goes for a run and Garmin doesn’t see it, did one really run?
Fast forward to today, nearly a decade later, and I’ve only sunk deeper into my Garmin Vortex. Now I wear the watch (Forerunner 235) every single day, all day and all night, 24/7. I’m no longer simply curious. It’s reached the point where I need to know resting heart rate, how many steps I took during the day, how many calories burned, and whether I slept last night. The first thing I check in the morning is my Garmin app. If I slept last night and Garmin doesn’t see it, did I really sleep???
So, of course, now I am positive I need the newer model, the Forerunner 935, which will track my weekly training load. I’m not even sure what that is but I fear that I can’t live without it.
The smart product marketplace is an eyeopener
Our research led us down a path to answer a basic question: What products are out there that provide data we don’t necessarily think we need but we will perceive to be invaluable in the future? The next Garmin Vortex? We found many examples of potential overreach but here are some of our favorites.
There’s a connected toilet paper holder that wants to reassure you it will revolutionize your entire toilet paper supply management lifecycle. I encourage you to check out the video
I thought it was a joke.
And these aren’t either:
- A $200 smart hairbrush that will measure the quality of your hair and tell you if you’re doing a decent job brushing it.
- A smart water bottle that, for $55, will remind you to drink. It will glow when you reach your water-drinking goal.
- A toothbrush that costs hundreds of dollars and features a camera to show live video of the inside of your mouth.
- A cookie oven that bakes cookies in ten minutes. Prices start at $129 and the cookie “pods” of dough, of course, cost extra.
Have we gone too far …?
So, the obvious question is: are these ‘connected’ products necessary?
The obvious answer is: they aren’t, and to borrow a phrase from my teenage son, “This is a force.” (If you, like me, aren’t fluent in ‘teenager’, the urban dictionary defines force (verb) as taking it to an extreme, killing it, or taking it too far).
The truth is I can see when I am running out of toilet paper and, if I was visually impaired, I could feel the roll and tell. I can notice if my hair is frizzy by looking in a mirror or touching my head. I admit that I don’t have personal water-drinking goals, but if I did, I’d know I had achieved my goal when my bottle was empty. And, honestly, I don’t want to see the deep recesses of my mouth up close and personal – that’s why we have dentists. Lastly, it only takes about 10 minutes to bake a chunk of Toll House chocolate chip cookie dough (about $5 a roll at your local market) in the oven I already have.
And they are delicious.
BUT what if this isn’t a ‘force’? What if these connected devices aren’t being taken to the extreme and this is the beginning of the Garmin Vortex? Perhaps someday in the future I won’t believe I need a new toilet paper roll unless it tells me that I do? And keeping track of how much water I drank manually will seem so 1990.
I am confident that some of these may be examples of ‘innovation overreach’ but some will take hold in the market and I am sure there are dozens more that humans haven’t thought of yet.
With all of these newly connected products, the future of data growth is clear – we will become more dependent on data, more dependent on the apps, and more dependent on IT infrastructure. At Schneider, our mission is to keep this infrastructure available and resilient . . . and ready to support your own personal Garmin Vortex, whatever it may be.