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How IoT will change the way you work

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What will a world with many Internet-connected devices look like and how will it change the workplace? YUNUS SCHEEPERS, chief information officer of Nashua, has some answers.

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been described as the anchor of the 21st century industrial revolution that will connect everything around us as well as increase productivity and efficiency. Predictions estimate the growth of the IoT will reach 50 billion objects by 2020.

IoT describes a growing network of connected variables which include sensors, processors and chips that have the ability to interact with other devices on a network. The computers, smart phones and printers we use have the capacity but now we’re starting to see televisions, cars and industries being able to receive data or being controlled remotely.

Soon every device you own – and nearly every object you can imagine – will be connected to the Internet. Whether it’s through your phone, wearable tech or everyday household object. Imagine a smart office which sets the optimal workplace temperature throughout the day – that’s soon becoming a reality. No more fights about whether it’s too hot or too cold.

Businesses should be the top adopters of IoT solutions to improve the bottom line by lowering operating costs, increasing productivity and expanding into new markets or developing new product offerings.

Change is coming to the office building too and it’s geared towards worker and customer convenience. IoT allows more data for your business than you currently track. This opens the door to learn more in-depth metrics on consumers and their behaviours, your employees and how they work, and even details on how the business operates. IoT means more software and data management systems to manage and implement this information.

Nashua has implemented IoT in its printing software with a device called Pro-Act Nashua.  It sits in all Nashua’s printers and picks up any abnormal behaviour before something happens to the printer and alerts the user that there will be an issue.

Everything faster

IoT means faster inventory management systems. Having all your equipment devices and products into the same network allows for efficiency – instantly updating numbers is at your disposal and tapping into metrics can be done easily form anywhere.

Interconnected devices will include everything from robots to cars and the public transportation system. This means shorter commute times for employees and faster deliveries. You get everything you need faster, but on the one hand, customers will expect and demand faster and more efficient service.

Machines and equipment in industries will operate smoother and maintenance routines become easier. The bottom line is that less money will be spent to produce inventory ad most of your costs will likely decrease.

IoT will change how we do business. Remote work will become even more feasible. Thanks to cloud-hosted software in devices like tablets and our smartphones is already an option for many professionals. With IoT all devices are manageable on one network – given just a tablet and an internet connection you’ll be able to manage an entire store, team or production line.

The downside of IoT integration

Tech and device management can be a complex task. For IoT to work at its optimum point devices need to be updated with the latest software and connected to the network. This will be expensive and demanding. Some industries will also disappear or radically change when IoT becomes mainstream. Some might even become obsolete, for example the logistics and delivery industry will become completely automated.

Businesses need to pay close attention to how their industries develop and be prepared for major changes. There will be sectors that will start to be higher demand allowing for more profitability and entry to new entrepreneurs. It’s important to watch how this new tech develops and get your business to gradually adapt to changes and reap the benefits of IoT.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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