We find ourselves in the midst of a truly extraordinary era, as the functions of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and other cutting-edge know-how serve to liberate human creativity and likewise bring innovation to cities, society and even our own values at truly breakneck speed.
This trend reaches from explosive developments forged in artificial intelligence, the fusion of neuroscience and business, pivotal advances in robotics and other areas, to the proclaimed “craftsmanship revolution” and the recently highly touted Internet of Things (IoT) concept buoyed by the digital realm.
Against this dynamic backdrop, we must pay close attention to the raw powers of “innovation” that continue to surge with unrestrained strength and energy across the borders between nations, cultures, industrial sectors and technological domains, in portraying increasingly lucid pictures of a more streamlined and functional future just around the corner.
The acronym “IoT” has emerged as a powerful buzzword symbol of late. This is an abbreviation for “Internet of Things,” and has also been translated into Japanese to closely mirror the same distinctive nuance.
As a word of clarification, in today’s fast-paced world, communication functions are increasing being instilled in fashion items, electrical appliances, bicycles, automobiles and other “things” that have not been connected to the Internet to date. This is setting the stage for major transformations in people’s daily lives and activities.
The movements in the IoT domain comprise an extremely important factor when considering the mobility of the future cities. In this report, we strive to shed light on how cities and IoT will engage and integrally interact over the years to come.
Key Inroads by Smart Homemaker “Nest”
One prominent example of a company attracting keen notice to the IoT realm is “Nest” – a manufacturer of smart thermostats and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors for use in the home. Taking note of that progress, Google acquired Nest for $3.2 billion.
With the release of the “Nest Learning Thermostat,” the company’s maiden product, the exquisite user interface and outstanding experiences furnished to customers through that development created a considerable stir on the marketplace.
Following that success, Nest came out its “Nest Protect” system used to detect smoke and carbon monoxide. After making the transition to a Google subsidiary, Nest moved on its own to acquire home monitoring company “Dropcam” at a price tag of $555 million, mustering its resources to develop and market the “Nest Cam” network camera and other innovative wares.
It goes without saying that Nest has garnered substantial interest for the actual products it has brought to market. At the same time, however, its increasingly formidable product lineup is certainly not the sole reason that the company has come to bask in such limelight.
Viewed from perspective of urban environments, there is ample merit presented in “Works with Nest” – a program perfected by Nest for developers in the smart home field which was unveiled in June 2014.
Third-Party Routed Home-City Interfaces
Companies engaged in development of fitness tracker exercise supports, lighting, sprinklers, keys, washing machines and other devices have participated in the “Works with Nest” program, entering into partnerships rooted in this technology.
The ranks of such partners include Chamberlain, a developer of advanced garages, Mercedes-Benz, Automate and other companies devoted to embedding automobiles with devices destined to pave the way to impressive communication capabilities and similar examples.
With this program, when users run errands outside the house or otherwise depart in their cars, the system detects the fact that they have left home, automatically locking the doors and turning off power for the air conditioner. Upon completing their activities and returning by car, the program automatically gauges the return distance, notifying the air conditioning system from the vehicle to bring the temperature at home to a comfortable level by the time the user gets homes. Upon arrival, the car and the garage network to automatically open and close the garage door.
The interfacing realized with “Works with Nest” opens the door to such futuristic experiences. Homes and cars are connected through sophisticated networking, with the devices themselves collaborating to empower activities on the outside to impact the environment in the home.
With further advances in such developments, forecasts are that a diversified range of urban activities will come to be reflected in home environments, with actions in the home conversely impacting city environments.
Automation of Mobility Experiences
Among the various products that Nest has brought to the market, the “Nest Learning Thermostat” smart thermostat has already begun to accrue a following in Europe and North America – regions where central air conditioning is the standard rule.
With the general practice in Japan being for use of air conditioning on a room-by-room basis, it may prove difficult to win acceptance for thermostats equivalent to the degree of proliferation in the West. Then again, when it comes to the “Nest Protect” fire alarm, “Nest Cam” network camera and other products supplied by Nest, introductions in Japan may very well be feasible without any impact from the infrastructures in place.
Smart-home related products are also beginning to appear in Japan. If such items can be effectively interfaced, it appears highly likely that people will come to enjoy greater comfort and convenience in their daily lives and routines.
Clearly, a key target for progress in the smart home domain consists of automation. Ideally, this does not refer to the utilization of smartphones or other devices by users to operate specific systems. The aim, rather, is to furnish conditions under which users can enjoy comfortable and convenient services automatically in sync with their behavior patterns.
People, things, homes, cities… Automation promises to be a crucial factor for many years to come, as various different entities come to function in states of increasing linkage and interaction.
This naturally leads to the question of what the future holds when it becomes possible to savor richly comfortable experiences, in widely diversified settings, simply by moving about. If such images can be clearly conceived, it should grow increasingly feasible to foretell what types of services are likely to emerge on the horizons from here on.
「OPEN ROAD INNOVATION REVIEW」Back number
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TEXT BY Junya Mori (contributor)
PHOTOGRAPHS BY Nest Labs
ISSUED ： 10 September 2015