Move Over, IoT, Here Comes The Internet of You

Most people know the Internet of Things as just that: sensors placed inside connected things. They talk about connected thermostats, refrigerators, and even cars and door locks. Now there is a growing trend of people going beyond putting sensors on and transmitting data to and from things. They are putting sensors on and transmitting data from their persons, creating an “Internet of You.”

More and more people are recognizing the benefits of using wearable devices. They are wearing smart watches, activity and fitness trackers, computers on their heads, and cameras that constantly capture images and record location information. These devices make things easier for users and even help solve a problem. Additionally, they make life even more comfortable while helping people save money and learn more about their behavior. And it helps that manufacturers are continuously coming up with new features and functionalities to make these devices vital and useful — and, hopefully, indispensable — to consumers.

It helps, too, that manufacturers are making these wearable devices very beautiful and stylish. They are not only functional but also something you would want to wear or use as a fashion accessory. This helps ensure that users will wear these devices as often as they can and probably will take them off only for charging. This means they will get more data and more use out of the devices.

To foster continual use, technological advances have made it possible for users to get the most out of their devices’ battery life. As sensors and connectivity technologies get smaller and cheaper, they are also becoming less of a power hog. In fact, Columbia University’s EnHANTs project is developing tiny, flexible tags that can generate energy from movement when they are shaken or can harness energy from light. The startup MC10 has developed and commercialized a stretchable power source for small, thin, and bendable electronics.

It is safe to say that consumers are taking notice of and buying wearable devices. In time, these devices could become second nature to us, much like how we cannot leave the house without our smartphones. These devices will be able to sense, gather, record, store, and transmit data from our bodies to the Internet or whatever network is available.

There could come a time when our homes will be filled with Internet of Things devices — a thermostat that turns on your air conditioning on a hot summer day five minutes before you pull into the driveway, or a refrigerator that keeps track of the food inside it. A wristband or a wristwatch will allow you to control all these smart devices, maybe even without consciously doing so. For example, an activity tracker you wear will know that you have woken up and will signal your TV to show your favorite morning news program. Or it will check your body temperature while you are sleeping to know if it should turn up your air conditioner to help you sleep better. This kind of interaction will turn wearable devices into the Internet of You.

The Internet of You will comprise wearable devices and will be the main point of control for your other smart devices, both by your command and from autonomous interactions. For instance, an activity tracker will record how long and how restful your sleep was and alert your car if you lack sleep. Your car could help keep you alert by playing dance music instead of soft jazz.

Some might think that the Internet of You just complicates matters and how people understand the Internet of Things, but it has a far greater connotation. It centers on you now. You will be able to take advantage of the capabilities of your smart devices at home without too much configuring needed. For instance, you will no longer have to set your smart thermostat to turn on the heat or air conditioning when the temperature reaches a certain point. The thermostat will know what to do just by reading your body temperature, so you get the utmost comfort without even lifting a finger.

Another scenario? Your radio will know that you are stressed because of your vital signs, like an increased heart rate or higher blood pressure. It can turn itself on and play some relaxing instrumental music to calm you down.

You might argue that all these ideas and functionalities are too sci-fi and too high-tech, but in the grand scheme of things, it actually puts you — and everything about yourself that you would normally not consider, like your pulse, blood pressure, and body temperature — back into the equation, rather than just relying on machines communicating with other machines.

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