Internet of Things – IOT – An Introduction – Part 1

Recently I got a chance to learn wood-cutting, make wooden boxes, cut metal, solder wires and attach electronic components to the box. This fun activity re-kindled my interest in Internet of Things (IOT) which, in simplest terms, refers to Internet-enabled objects.

For example, right now, I am sitting on a chair. If all chairs are Internet-enabled – at least the ones I use regularly – then, potentially the chairs could collect data like:

  • Hours I spent on chairs (to remind me about my physical inactivity)
  • Hours I spent on different postures
  • Weight variation during the day

and so on! –

If I choose so, my doctor or fitness coach might receive this data to monitor my health and fitness.

Next, the chair could be smart enough to help me do relevant physiotherapy exercises with voice guidance.

Here is a product update in the year 2013 “Introducing the smart chair – New flexible office chair designed for mobile workers” on networkworld.com. It was not yet talking about Internet connectivity (which is required in the case I have described above since I want my data to be collected on whichever chair I am sitting) – however, this product does talk in detail about 9 distinct poses people take on a chair. This was a result of study done by Steelcase with 2000 people across 11 countries. Such a chair can ensure the healthiest posture for my body depending on the task I am doing – say, writing, sketching or working on a laptop.

Steelcase calls its chair “Gesture” – here are a few photos and a video as well. Fast forward 2016 – here is one news update on the product:

Steelcase is developing embedded sensor technology for furniture that can learn personal preferences over time. In the future, it’s not hard to imagine office furniture that can communicate from one room to another, adapting to your specific requirements as you walk around your office building.

The news update also talks about another furniture maker Herman Miller which has come up with a height-adjustable T2 smart desk that reminds the user via smartphone to stretch their legs.

Now, how does one begin making such a chair or desk? The first function our “Smart Chair” needs is the ability to detect presence of a human body. There we go – we just got introduced to the most basic component of almost all IOT products have – sensors. Sensors are many types – for example:

  1. Motion – Proximity sensors that detect any object that moves around in close proximity.
  2. Temperature
  3. Pressure (liquid or gas)
  4. Chemical sensor
  5. Gas – there are already products (like here) being tested in market that detect cancer through a breath test.
  6. Water Quality sensor – for example, we could remotely monitor the water quality of a water reservoir.
  7. IR (Infrared)
  8. Ultrasonic sensor

For a much more detailed list see this article here.

Coming back to our ‘Smart Chair’, here is a very rudimentary concept note “Ideas on the Internet of Things – The Connected Chair” that outlines the basic thought process to design such a chair. Here is a MVP (Minimum Viable Product) described to help design a simplest possible prototype.

Another fast forward to 2017 – a Japanese company has launched Argus Smart Sensing Chair (IoT) which measures heart rate, breathing, and stress levels.

The world is moving – people are innovating – engineers are designing – companies are manufacturing – but not yet at the speed of thought! It is 2019, and it seems, we do not have our yet. But, we have completed our introduction to IOT – let us see what explore in the next write-up.

An update for further reading:

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