Glimpsing the Future at Verizon’s Innovation Center

The future is now!

Glen Gilmore is an instructor of digital marketing and emerging technologies at the Rutgers School of Business, Executive Programs. Ranked a “Top 100” influencer in the “Internet of Things” and “Augmented Reality” by Onalytica, Gilmore is the founder of Gilmore Business Network, a digital transformation consulting firm. He may be found on Twitter @GlenGilmore. As an influencer, he receives complimentary Verizon goods, services and reimbursement for his travel from Verizon. His thoughts and writings are his own.


When tech calls, I answer. It always fun for a techie like me to get a chance to see some of the innovative things tech companies like Verizon are working on. The other day, I received an invite to visit Verizon’s innovation center just outside of Boston, in Waltham. I couldn’t pass up the invitation. Here are some of the things I saw and heard.

A Smart Home or Office Means a Smart Floor

The morning ritual of stepping on a scale will be over. You floor will know your weight. (Ouch!) And your footsteps. And your wanderings. And if you have “fallen and can’t get up!”

“Smart floors” are a smart idea. Like the product itself, the idea is smart and innovative. And, Verizon reps were quick to give the credit for the idea to a flooring enterprise that came to the center and asked about making their flooring “smart”.

Think about the implications and possibilities of a connected floor. As the pricing of sensors goes down, the possibilities of connectivity go up.

Let’s start with safety: knowing if someone has fallen at a hospital or assisted living center — or even at a business. Knowing if something has fallen at a warehouse. Detection of activity in restricted, hazardous areas. On and on.

Marketing and sales. Data collection of customer foot-traffic patterns to improve customer experience and sales awareness. Etc.

“We’ll know who left the heater on or who has the illegal hot plate.”

Every device will have an energy-draw signature. One innovation that should be a boon for safety and energy efficiency is an electrical system that can detect the “signature” of power-using devices to determine what devices are drawing energy, how much, and when. The level of data sharing precision is a future that lets property managers know if someone in a housing unit is using a dangerous hotplate that could put the entire facility at risk of fire or that someone has unnecessarily left a warehouse heating unit on overnight, wasting energy. The monitoring, of course, would be remote, with automation to send appropriate signals and possibly initiate appropriate responses.

There Will Be…Very Cool Helmets and Visors

Whether you’re an Avengers fan or a Star Wars fan, you want a near future where you’ll get to wear a helmet packed with special powers. Welcome to our augmented, virtual, mixed reality — now!

Enterprise wants and needs smart helmets. Helmets that can reduce the number of people physically present in hazardous situations, but allowing many people to watch in real-time from the perspective of someone there — collaborating on critical solutions. Smart helmets with augmentation (i.e., overlays of information/instructions) can provide life-saving capabilities in extreme circumstances. “We have the technology.”

Augmented Reality Becomes ELLE Fashionable!

Print gets dynamic — and even more fashionable — with Augmented Reality!

Verizon collaborated with the ELLE fashion brand to bring ELLE’s sophisticated community a branded, augmented reality experience. Few get to work with impeccable fashion magazine ELLE, but Verizon did when it collaborated to provide a platform for ELLE’s augmented reality initiative which offers readers dynamic content. The ELLE brand excels, in part, because of a commitment to innovation. Verizon excels, in part, because of its ability to collaborate with others in executing innovative ideas.

Your Vineyards Will Be Smarter, Too!

Sensors in vineyards give winegrowers real-time information on their harvest.

Timing — and water and temperatures are everything in winemaking! Smart technologies are being used by smart winemakers who aim to bring added perfection and science to their products. The whims of weather can destroy the promise of a good vintage. Verizon is helping winemakers tap into the IoT tech that can help them closely monitor what is happening fields from the remoteness of their wine cellars — in real time!

A Camera Made for Throwing

Innovation becomes reality with collaboration.

Why would you want a camera made for throwing?! Ask a SWAT team that’s been asked to make an entry into a location with little time or ability to assess the dangers that may await them. Ask the hazardous materials worker or the disaster-recovery engineer.

A camera you can throw was an Innovation Center collaboration. Verizon regularly encourages innovation by creating contests to inspire the submission of innovative tech ideas. One entry was the design of a camera that could be used by SWAT teams and emergency responders, hence, the “throw-able” camera. It makes sense when you think about it, but it’s the sort of useful, non-traditional product that will only come to life by the sort of collaborations Verizon’s Innovation Center offers.

“Let me freshen up the conference room with the scent of roses — from my app…”

An app for remote “fragrancing” of rooms?! Now wait second. Think about it. Who wouldn’t like an app that lets us freshen up our home or office with special scents. Perhaps cinnamon during the holidays. The aroma of chocolate chip cookies during birthdays? You decide.

Well, there’s an app for that! And, I dare say, there should be many customers for that. It’s another innovation of the Internet of Things. It also happens to be another collaborative Verizon innovation.

A Smart Medicine Bottle Could Help Us All

Don’t worry, your medicine bottle will track your pills. We all have to take our medicine at one time or another. And, most of us tend to mess up keeping track of our medicine-taking schedule. Worry no more, because your pill bottle will notice if you have forgotten to take or pill or have taken too many. You may get a text of phone call to help you out. Another innovation from collaboration.

Your City’s Solar-Powered Sidewalk Trash Can Should “Get Smart”

Saving on sanitation is big for every community — connected trash cans can help!

Connected devices should be about doing things smarter, more efficiently. What’s the benefit of making city sidewalk trash cans “smart”, that is, connected to the internet? Efficiency. It can alert city sanitation when they need to be emptied, adding data to improve scheduling and services, while saving money. Data-based public service. Smart cities.

“I want my connected…snow-blower!”

A connected snow-blower?! Hey, we’re talking about new ideas here. Innovation.

Why not an Uber for snow-blowers? “An Uber for snow blowers?!” Not exactly, but, it’s an idea. Why not have some snow blowers a community could use. Have them connected and displayed on an app so that someone who wanted to use one would know when one might be available. No need to buy a snow blower when you can rent one, easily, when you need one.

5G is coming

Necessity is the mother of invention — and progress. In a world where every car company is working on driverless cars, 5G, super-fast wireless, will be a necessity, not a luxury. Verizon is preparing for the shift to 5G that our connected world will demand. Sources say 2020 is a safe bet for a mass introduction of 5G. It’s a telecom race. A massive investment. It will be a game changer.

Verizon Gets Innovation — And IoT, and AR…

Innovation isn’t about what we already have, it’s about finding new solutions. So, yes, Verizon showed us a connected car. Old news. But they also talked about new ideas and applications for connected devices and platforms. Every idea doesn’t need to be a winner, but, we’ll get more ideas and better inventions and efficiencies when we think outside the box — or geo-fencing.

The innovations discussed in this post offer just a small sampling of the digital transformation that is underway. Everything will be connected. Everything. Tapping our imaginations to put our connected world to work is the challenge, a challenge Verizon’s innovation centers are working to meet.

It falls us each of us to craft our connected future. Verizon’s innovation centers welcome new ideas. Sometimes, crazy ideas are the creative spark that changes our world in a way that is fundamental to each of us. If you have innovation that requires a little help, you might want to see if Verizon would help. It’s always working on innovation.

Big or small, you can apply to collaborate with Verizon. It only takes a good idea.

To apply for a Verizon innovation collaboration, FOLLOW THIS LINK!