Macadamian Blog

IoT: Life In A Connected World

Fred Boulanger

Everything discussed is based on technology that is already available today and that is just not yet accessible for everyone. As the technology enabling the connected world moves forward with increasing speed, so too will its adoption. Get ready!

Internet of Things Life In A Connected World

Is 2025 connected technology really that far off?

Today, as I checked from my mobile the state of things at the cottage (electricity, temperature, humidity) as we plan for the weekend, I started thinking about how IoT is becoming a way of life for me. But, for some it is still in the distant future. The reality is that it isn’t. That got me thinking even more about how very soon all of our lives will be different (and better) because of the way connectivity will augment our interactions with the world around us. And, much of this technology is even already available today.
Here is what my typical day might look like in the not too distant future (and yours, too):

Personal Tech

Wake up time. Time to get the day going with a warm up and then some exercise. It’s such a delight not to have to worry anymore about my back problems. I finally have that under control through a better understanding of my bad posture throughout the day, and a better awareness of how to move so I’m using the muscles I’m supposed to and thereby reducing the stress on my back. It’s all in the past now because the clothes I wear collect data about my movements and correct my “bad” movements with gentle haptic reminders.

At breakfast, I indulge in a shake. Two out of three of my daily meals are purely for fuel. They supply me with all the nutrients I need based on my body’s current conditions, and keep me at the top of my energy curve all day. They also supply data about my digestive process and organs through specialized disposable sensors that are in the shake itself. And, while I am finishing my shake, I conveniently browse through today’s paper available directly on the kitchen counter surface that serves double-duty as a screen.

Eventually, my kids slowly wake up. Getting them up is one of the many responsibilities of the house computer, Poppins. Poppins is smart enough to go through their basic lessons with them. They even play trivia games during shower and hair drying time to make it more interesting. Poppins is always listening for requests, as well as monitoring and controlling all of the connected devices in the house to make life easier for everyone. Our entire house is interactive and even though all of our mirrors and windows function as screens, most of our interactions are still via voice. We just love Poppins.

Over Capacity Management and Smart Resources

The energy usage in our house is really well managed. The house is aware of our location, what we are doing, and optimizing our energy consumption accordingly. It’s also making our excess capacity available for our neighborhood garden. Grey water and over flow solar energy are routed from our house to the neighborhood garden. This automatically counts towards our weekly quota of fresh fruit and vegetables. Monetizing the excess capacity in our home for actual goods (local fruit and vegetables) is very worthwhile for our entire family. And, it’s shielding us from the drought in California and fluctuating energy prices.

Orchestrating all the services provided by all the connected things in my house is still complex and challenging. It is very difficult to remember what happens when, and I have forgotten half of the commands that the system supports. I really have to do something about this. Inevitably, some of these systems tend to have hiccups that “conveniently” coincide with my business trips – causing everyone in the house to get a little frustrated when I’m away.

In our house, a lot of activities revolves around the fridge. The fridge is, after all, where the kids go when they are hungry (And, they are hungry a lot.). Poppins and the fridge are best friends. As the kids rummage for food, they get to see what matters to them: their schedules, family events, where mom and dad are, and even news and the weather.

The kids are off to school and I’m looking forward to getting on with the rest of my day. No business travel today, so I’m quickly in the car and off to work. I easily broadcast to my carpooling service that I’m on my way to work and what my expected arrival time will be. I see four people along the way that need a ride. I’ve met some really great people that I would never have met if it weren’t for this carpooling service. And, best of all, I don’t even need to look for parking. After I drop everyone off and get to work, my car simply goes home until I need it later. This is still much cheaper than a parking space at work.

People are People

At work, some things never change. Even though so many other aspects of life are evolving, work is still about people and communication. I realize that no amount of technology can help me better understand the issues at hand than a face-to-face meeting with my staff. However, technology is now enabling me to better read physically demonstrated emotions and that makes me a better listener. I have a meeting with my chief architect and my augmented eye lenses capture a slight body temperature fluctuation that leads me to ask a few questions to uncover some of the challenges he is going through as a new leader in our team. This allows me to help to begin coaching on the issue before he even needs to verbally express the problem.

An on-demand economy with an instantaneous response to meeting a demand is key in all areas of our lives. This is the biggest change connectivity has brought so far. The power of spare capacity is really a new economy that has turned the world of logistics upside down. Gaining insight from both the information we gather and the information generally available is a problem that has grown in complexity by several orders of magnitude. With my Virtual Reality (VR) set, I can now navigate and leave trails for others into what I’m working on. It allows me to build live models of what I see and then quickly extrapolate the data trends with voice commands and gestures. Once we feed into our computers these new ways of looking at data, a whole new “onion layer” becomes available for even more analysis.

Local Economy

On my way home, I catch a ride with a neighbor who is stopping at the neighborhood garden to see the new irrigation system recently installed by the management company. This particular garden supplies year round fresh fruit and vegetables for more than 50 families. We have three such gardens in our neighborhood that are making use of rooftop greenhouses and vertical farming practices in what would have normally been simple office buildings. The management company we have hired does pretty much all the work for a small cut of the produce. We pick up our produce weekly and three times per year we have some designated neighborhood chores. Interestingly, this gives our family an opportunity to experience and understand where our food comes from.

I grab my basket of fruit and vegetables and head home. When I arrive, Poppins tells me about her day. Good news: Everything is normal. The kids and I get started with preparing dinner. Well, it is really just preparing a side dish because we subscribe to a local restaurant dinner service. It’s a great way to have more time with the kids while still eating at home. When we do want to eat out, there is a wide variety of successful restaurants in the neighborhood due to the consistent business provided by the subscription-based dinner service – even when patrons don’t dine out.

When I start the dishwasher, I notice we are nearly out of dishwasher soap. With the simple push of a button, I order more from the supermarket and it arrives within the hour. The person who made the delivery was shopping at the supermarket and was offered a free box of Lucky Charms to drop off the dishwasher soap to us on his way home. I simply have to sign off that I have received it and he will receive his cereal at his next supermarket visit, or at it his house if he too chooses home delivery.

In a Global World

Time for homework. Our tutor lives in Argentina and is amazing with the kids. They listen to everything he says. The VR world is just like Minecraft. The immersive telepresence system really makes it seem like we are all together in the same room. The tutor can review the latest tests from the student portal and collaborate on anything they have missed.

It’s Tuesday! After my wife and I have gotten the little ones to sleep (with a little extra help from Poppins), I’m lucky enough to have a little time for dart night at the local pub. We are playing the champions in Ireland. It’s a virtual dart championship and I have been practicing – a lot. Thanks to my smart compression shirt, my performance has really improved.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Bedtime. I reset my pillow. Last night I tried a new configuration that made my neck a little stiff. Ah, that’s better. The sheets automatically adapt to my body temperature throughout the night and maintain a nice even 68 degrees. Good night.

Sound Cool?

Ok. So, some of my examples might be a little over the top, but everything I’ve discussed is based on technology that is already available today and that is just not yet accessible for everyone. As the technology enabling the connected world moves forward with increasing speed, so too will its adoption. Get ready… Soon you will be having a conversation with a Poppins of your own – or maybe an Alexia or even a Cortana

Author Overview

Fred Boulanger

Fred is an out-of-the closet design and technology geek who envisions a world where software enables the full potential of ideas, enriches lives, and is a joy to use. He has led Macadamian in its tremendous growth to become a multi-million dollar consultancy with an award-winning work culture. As a director of the Information Technology Association of Canada, Fred is an active advocate for expanding Canada’s innovative capacities. He is also a community leader and a co-founder of the Ottawa High School Technology Program, which encourages a passion for science in high school students. Frédéric graduated from the Université de Sherbrooke with a B.S. in Computer Science. He resides with his wife and children in Gatineau, Quebec, where he enjoys mountain biking, skiing, and cooking for family and friends.