Where does IoT meet our food space?

Internet of Thing is an inflated expression. It describes several technologies and research disciplines that enable the Internet to reach out into the real world of physical objects. Used for the first time decades ago, IoT finds its use cases in many different industries, from smart connected homes, to wearables, to healthcare, slowly becoming part of every aspect of our lives. Its baseline stands on the fact that connected devices can make things smarter and human actions easier, despite what the practical application could be.

What are we talking about?

In a recent thought leadership paper, PwC described the advent of the Internet of Things as a once-in-a-lifetime business disruption, that requires organisations to develop or acquire new capabilities, to change operations and to revolutionise business models. To achieve its full potential, the IoT needs to be combined with an equally powerful and disruptive set of technologies categorised as Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI was introduced as a concept back in 1950 by the computer pioneer Alan Turing. In his publication “Computing Machinery and Intelligence” he has talking about a moment where humans would have been able to speak with machines without being contradicted.

At its core, AI is about simulating intelligent behaviour in machines of all kinds — and since IoT is about connecting those machines, there is a clear intersection between AI and IoT. As this convergence continues, the ongoing headlong growth of IoT results to be driven by several factors. Among all, there are six current trends which are at the core of the AI growth: the decrease of cost of CPU, memory and storage, the convergence of IT & operational technology, the advent of big data & cloud, the increase of device proliferation, the decrease cost of megabit/sec and the increase in VC investments in the industry.

To use the words of Professor Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum: “Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing. The evidence of dramatic change is all around us and it’s happening at exponential speed.”. In other words, we are just at the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution: a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work and relate to one another.

Which are the most impacted industries?

The IoT’s growth will drive an exponential rise in the volumes of data being generated, estimating that the number of devices connected to the Internet will go from 11 billion in 2016 to 80 billion in 2025. At core of this, there is the conviction that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is in our control. It is in the control of all of us as long as we are able to collaborate across geographies, sectors and disciplines to grasp the opportunities it presents.

As Schwab was pointing out, it is difficult to border the specific industries and areas where Internet of Things is making a change, since the generated disruption is touching horizontally many industries. But of course there are some specific sectors that are so far seeing a more relevant impact from this technological revolution.

Energy. Technology has totally transformed a once boring industry to one of the hottest industries in the world. Traditionally, safety IoT has been geared towards maintenance detection for enterprise level operations and applications. Today, a similar architecture can be easily applied to our home, office, city. Sensors for natural resource management are everywhere, enabling cost saving and water, electricity, and gas more conscious use. Led by few leaders in the space, distributed energy resources combine modular electricity generation, storage capabilities, and the ability to lower your electric utility bills.

Security. With over 90% of consumers saying that security is one of the top reasons to purchase a smart home system, IoT for home innovation and security allows people to control their locks, lights and camera security all from their phone, from just about anywhere in the world.

Wellness. IoT can help tracking your wellness with wearables and smart meal apps. Fitbit, Apple watch, and Samsung have all created new revenue streams made from giving their users workout analytics and the ability to set daily health goals. Also, connected cups and water bottles can make staying hydrated easy. They provide nutritional facts and information regarding how we should be eating and drinking everyday. Other mobile apps track sleep, weight, nutrition, and more.

Retail. Our environment is impacted by our location all the time: this is thanks to geofence. A geofence is a virtual barrier in which mobile applications are able to set triggers that react depending on proximity. This proximity-based advertising model of smart retailing is becoming a reality. An additional very relevant application of IoT stands in on-demand shopping. From Amazon Dash to Echo, it is always easier to automate our home’s daily operations, especially talking about shopping.

Entertainment. The whole Internet of Things revolves around entertainment, comfort, and convenience. It is primarily focused around the TV but can also expand to music and sound, lighting, overall comfort, and utilisation of streaming services.

And what about the food industry?

Just looking at what happened in the last two months, we can see several examples of how IoT, AI and the food industry are connecting. From IBM’s blockchain partnership with several food corps including Nestle and Unilever, to Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, and Google’s partnership with Walmart, it seems more and more obvious that this tech-food intersection is soaring in magnitude.

There is a big list of IoT technologies and food digitisation efforts that let glimpsing countless benefits for consumers. We envision a safer, more convenient and transparent food supply; personalizable foods in the form of advanced tailoring of organoleptic properties; effortless diet tracking and consequential personalised diets aligned with health outcomes; engineered sensory experiences. According to Professor Matthew Lange, UC Davis, and his team, this specific field can be called the “Internet of Food”.

Interestingly, many of this innovations are happening either at the production and manufactory level in food corporations or around the final user, leveraging smartphones and wearable devices. But since we are talking about food and we do know the strong and evidence-based links between the act of cooking and the personal health outcomes (especially obesity rates), why aren’t we looking to IoT in the kitchen space?

Smart Kitchen Summit

Exactly for this purpose we are really interested in supporting the upcoming Smart Kitchen Summit, taking place in Seattle on the 10th and 11th of October. A leading event on the future of food, cooking and the kitchen, the Summit is the occasion to hear experts and leading companies’ positions and opinions on connecting humans and devices through the internet at an extent that never happened before. Leaders across the appliance, food, technology, cooking, retail and restaurant industries will converge to map the food and tech future together. To get an overview, check out here, the past Summits, and take a look here to speakers and partners!

See you in Seattle!

Like what you read? Give Chiara Cecchini a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.