10 crazy IoT ideas that can soon become real

1) Smart cities: revenue generating fountains

What if instead of being a cost to cities, fountains become a revenue generator? Crazy idea? Just put the same coin accepting mechanism you find in vending machines and allow tourists to switch the fountain on for 30 seconds to get the ideal photo taken. But why not put an App Store on the fountain and allow others to come up with new ideas. What if you could make apps that can let water and lasers join up. The perfect place? The Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas. Why not allow for marriage proposals to appear projected inside the water flows? Let different tourists jointly bid for the fountain to go on or even betting apps for fountains.

2) Building automation – first class elevators

This one is for Dubai, New York and Taipei as well as any luxury hotel. The super rich often live in the penthouse suite or rent the top floors in hotel. What is the worst thing you can do to them in an elevator? Press all the buttons of every floor! So why not introduce first class elevator service just like in planes. Their mobile is detected and even before they reach the elevators there is one waiting that offers the current users the choice: “leave now” or “go to the top floors before you go to your floor”. For $1,000 to $10,000 per month you can also select your favourite music and other types of personal touches.

3) Building automation – anti-terrorist and other emergency solutions.

What if security cameras inside buildings can check for hazardous situations? Somebody covers their face and pulls a gun out of their pocket. The elevator should close the doors, automatic doors inside the building get locked and a swat team is called. If you fall down and stay for 30 seconds on the ground then a doctor is called. Same for fires and the fire department.

4) Building automation – elevators sales pitch

Taking the elevator at work during lunch time towards the ground floor? The digital signage inside it should offer you a GroupOn type of discount for a new restaurant two streets further. Just tap with your mobile and confirm the reservation.

5) Digital signage – app stores on toilets

You already have a company that puts games on male toilets. This can go a lot further with app stores. Male toilets have a special way of controlling the interface. Female toilets will need to do with gesture control. This is the only place where touch screens will never be used.

6) ehealth – open source MRI scanners with app stores

If somebody open sources the design and brings the price of MRI scanners from millions to $100,000 then each small hospital can afford one or multiple. Just go there one time a year. Let your full body be scanned and have thousands of algorithms looking for early signs of cancer. Pay a $100 and if there are more than a 1,000 customers, the MRI scanner becomes revenue generating. Donate your data to science and it can be free. Finding cancer early makes it easier to cure.

7) Home automation – coolness as a service

Pay per day for coolness as a service, a.k.a. a fridge, and get paid a $100 per day the coolness is not available. This type of business models will immediately introduce the need for predictive maintenance in which your fridge gets fixed before it breaks. Add Alexa services to the fridge and you can order any type of groceries. Add cloud bidding markets and you always get the cheapest groceries. But even if you don’t feel like cooking you can just ask the fridge to order a pizza, make a restaurant or movie reservation. Finally you can buy apps that have nothing to do with the fridge like a Pokemon Go app that warns the kids that a rare Pokemon is outside the house. Generate enough app and cloud revenues for the manufacturer or services company and you might end up not having to pay for coolness as a service, a.k.a. get the fridge for free by using the app platform on top.

8) Smart vending – a telecom in a box

Add a mobile base station to a vending machine, sell sim cards and allow people to top-up their prepaid account. Now the vending machine is doing what a telecom operator does.

9) Smart telecom – run your own base station

Every company or consumer should be able to setup their own base station and run their own network. Via apps on the base station, spectrum can be delivered as a service and the network can be managed as a federation. Why not provide the owner of the base station with a free contract?

10) Smart robots – close sourcing personalised products

Have small batches of robots make products close to consumers and make personalised robots for each customer. It used to be extremely expensive. Not so any more. Everything from soldering, sorting, laser engraving, 3d printing, etc. can be done by robot arms that cost under $2,000. Put 10 in a row, add a conveyor belt and Mr. Ford would be proud.

The future of smart devices?

The future is here. These are not ideas of things that need years of research. We can make most of them real in under 12 months. We will be showing several demos at Mobile World Congress at the end of February…more info here!

About the author

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Maarten Ectors is responsible at Canonical for Internet of Things, the next-generation of networking and cloud solutions that are in proximity of the user or at the edges of the network. Previously he was strategy director for cloud, big data and IoT. Maarten reports to Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical.

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