What Objects Are Part of the Internet of Things?

What objects are part of the Internet of Things? These days, a better question would be what objects aren’t? Technology intelligence companies such as IDC and Gartner predict that as many as 212 billion devices could be part of the IoT by 2020.

Every day seems to bring news of yet another common item that has been upgraded to a next-generation, “smart” version through sensors and internet connectivity. To get a glimpse of the kind of future that the IoT is promising, read on for a look at nine common items you might not have known could already be connected to the internet.

  1. Trash Cans

Image by WehoCity | Flickr

Internet-capable trash cans could be a big help to cities and municipalities that are looking to manage their waste collection programs more efficiently. The original smart garbage can comes from BigBelly Solar. Each container boasts solar-powered trash compacting capabilities and internet sensors that alert sanitation crews when the container is full and ready for pickup.

According to a 2013 report by the Center for Data Innovation, users have seen impressive results. Boston University, for example, reduced its average number of weekly garbage pickups from 14 to just 1.6.

  1. Bridges

To help maximize bridge safety, researchers and engineers worldwide are turning to bridge sensors to help detect structural changes or problems that need to be addressed. One such smart bridge is the Jindo Bridge, which connects Jindo Island with the mainland of South Korea.

The bridge is equipped with more than 600 wireless sensors. These give bridge engineers a comprehensive, real-time picture of the bridge’s structural integrity.

  1. Parking Lots

Both businesses and municipalities are taking advantage of smart parking sensors to help reduce congestion, monitor parking violations, and enhance patrons’ trip planning. Self-powered, wireless sensors, like those produced by the company ParkSight, collect real-time data on the occupancy status of parking spots and transmit this information to parking lot operators and drivers entering the lot.

Drivers benefit from knowing the location and cost, as well as the maximum time limit, of available spots. Facilities benefit by being easily able to track and enforce parking violations.

  1. Buses

Image by Jason Kuffer | Flickr

Buses are just one of many major assets that are benefitting from the shift from reactive to preventive maintenance that has come about thanks to data collected from sensors. In St. Louis, for example, buses are equipped with sensors that transmit data on elements like bus speed, oil pressure, and engine temperature.

Computer suggestions on the maintenance schedules for individual vehicles are then transmitted to service technicians. The resulting elimination of unnecessary maintenance is so far saving St. Louis $10 million per year in servicing and personnel-related costs.

  1. Handwashing Stations

A new handwashing reminder and recording system from HyGreen aims to help facilities reduce the spread of diseases or infections by promoting proper employee handwashing practices. Currently in use in hospitals, the system kicks into action when someone begins washing their hands. A small electronic badge records the worker’s ID number, location, and time. This data can help facility managers more easily identify the potential source of an infection, should one occur.

  1. Helmets

Image by Jinx! | Flickr

The link between football and concussions is a serious source of concern for many parents and coaches of young players. Enter a new, flexible helmet sensor from Shockbox that can record the direction and severity of received impacts and send immediate notifications via an app if concussion-level force is detected.

  1. Egg Cartons

Tiny sensors implanted in the bottom of each egg cup in the Egg Minder, a smart egg carton from GE and Quirky, record how many eggs are in the carton and how long each egg has been there. The tray display uses a line of LED lights to show which eggs are the oldest, and the carton can be programmed to send a smartphone alert when the number of eggs remaining falls below a set threshold.

  1. Pill Bottles

As the name suggests, the GlowCaps pill bottles from Vitality help remind patients when they have forgotten their regular dose of medication through a series of escalating notifications. Notifications include flashing lights, audio reminders, and even phone calls.

A GlowCaps bottle is fitted with sensors that register each time the bottle is opened. If the bottle is not opened when or as many times as it should be, the notifications are triggered. Another significant advantage of these smart pill bottles is that patients, caregivers, and doctors all have online access the dosage reports generated by the bottles.

  1. Water Monitors

A new water monitoring system from Belkin Echo Water brings plumbing into the future by using sensors to detect the vibrations in pipes and sophisticated algorithms to analyze the vibration data. This helps homeowners and professionals alike log information on when various water fixtures are used and how much water they consume, making it easier to identify the source of a leak, reduce water consumption, or check the calculations of a utility bill.