Sensors and Wi-Fi are changing how we interact with the world around us, bringing a new era of connectivity – dubbed the Internet of Things. With this enhanced connectivity comes the chance to tap into and use any data collected, opening up almost boundless opportunities for business, communities, personal and civic benefit. Central to facilitating much of that potential will be banks.
Our very relationship with banks will be transformed, as will the way they operate. Branches will disappear as we no longer require face-to-face service. Wearables and biometric devices, cars, homes, offices and even the built environment will initiate transactions directly with banks in real time, while banks’ role as custodians of our money will grow to include management services to help with budgeting and even health.
The extent of change is limited only by our imagination. Already there are game-changing applications and services being trialled and implemented. It is time for financial services to be provided by the “Bank of Things”.
Dawn of the “Bank of Things”
Over the past 10 years, I’ve seen analysts forecasts of the number of devices connected to the internet grow from 2 billion to 50 billion. The reality is we simply don’t know – and the ever-spiralling statistic is a sign of just how big the potential for this new technology is.
It seems it will soon be possible to connect anything and everything.
We already have a mattress cover that monitors your health; socks that tell you how many times they’ve been worn and washed; 3D printed clothes that adjust to temperature; and milk bottle tops that tell you if the contents have gone off. Meanwhile, toothbrushes, light bulbs, door handles and even pens can all be connected and deliver new services as a result.
New types of information
A new era of connectivity has begun and with it comes a whole different level of Big Data, as devices emit a constant flow of information. In addition, just as the number and variety of things connected to the internet continues to grow, so does the range of information coming from them. Sensors can provide data on location (GPS), movement (accelerometer), temperature, pressure and light, for example. And it quickly becomes apparent that the possibilities for this continuous stream of information are limitless.
Nor does it stop there, because these connected “things” can also communicate with each other. Imagine a washing machine that warns you that you’ve left your phone in the pocket of the jeans you’ve just placed inside it to wash. Or curtains that open when the alarm on your phone wakes you up in the morning (possibly a little later than usual because it has checked your diary for the day ahead and detected that you haven’t slept well).
Again, the possibilities of what could result from devices that are able to talk to each other are endless. Children are today learning the basics of wiring up sensors and finding ways to employ the resulting data using kits such as Wunderbar, SAM and Kano to build their own gadgets.
These are the skill sets of the future – electronics (circuits), APIs/scripting and analytics.