Amazon and IoT (Part 2): Moving Beyond the Home

In our last post about Amazon and Amazon Web Services, we talked a lot about the moves they’re making in the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) industry, from selling and making IoT devices, to developing a vast suite of services under AWS to support IoT solutions (EC2, Kinesis, Lambda, S3, Redshift, Elastic MapReduce, and more). Their most obvious IoT move is the acquisition of 2lemetry, the builders of ThingFabric – an incredibly flexible and scalable IoT platform.  As a former employee of 2lemetry it’s incredibly gratifying to see IoT moving beyond just being a bunch of ideas and concepts – it’s a real thing. This acquisition nearly seals the deal in making AWS the obvious choice for many who are wanting to add an IoT layer because of their dominance in cloud computing. Obviously they have a fair share of competition (Microsoft, PTC) but they already have a big niche in the market. It also answers the oft-repeated question, “Will the Internet of Things develop into an actual industry”? Most definitely. 

Our last post was mainly centered on what’s happening already with Amazon’s IoT involvement, that being home automation and connections. In this post, I’d like to suggest other possibilities the Seattle-based company might have for us in the near future.

With everything they’ve done for the home consumer, consider a few other implications out of the home. What about hands free IoT in the field? There could be a new market in this arena if Echo or Alexa’s voice technology could be leveraged in places where wearables like Google Glass failed (on sale at for a low price of $800!). You may have seen the Iron Man movies. Think of Jarvis, the digital and voice activated assistant of Tony Stark who helps him build the Iron Man suit. That could soon be a real thing.

Consider technicians working in the field on a generator for an oil pump. Instead of manually checking on the operations of another generator a few miles away she can simply ask a field-version of Echo, and Alexa can respond. The potential here is huge. Make a verbal request, receive a digital response. Medical surgeries, air traffic control, and fleet management could all use Echo technology respectively. Or what about first responders? It’s already in the works: firefighters are looking at IoT technology to improve their effectiveness. They’ll be able to use sensors in the midst of a fire to assist in situational awareness and personnel location – who’s in the building and where? What’s temperature on floor 2 versus floor 3? They’ll be able to collect data before the incident to be more effective, enhance interoperability between data systems (i.e. building, weather, street, etc.) and they’ll be developing intelligent systems to assist with decision-making. For police officers, using an interactive microphone on their uniform instead of talking to dispatch, they’ll be able to ask questions and get answers, make voice commands with an immediate response. They’ll be able to to verbally communicate with the world around them.

Hands free, voice activated technology like this will enable quick action and response. Marvel comics, meet the real world.

And think of the possibilities if Amazon starts working with the manufacturers who’s products they sell. A customer buys a used digital camera through Amazon, but the the usage stats are recorded via AWS throughout the life of the camera. How many times has it broke, how clean is it, how many times was it dropped. This could be even more useful for buying used vehicles. No more CarFax reports! A shopper will know exactly what their buying so they know they’re not getting a lemon. And because most products are shipped through mail, FedEx, etc., customers will know how their new purchase faired during the shipping process. All of this will open new possibilities for warranties, replacements, and product guarantees. 

Just like the iPhone opened up new possibilities that just a few years ago were thought impossible, IoT – in combination with technologies like Echo – will do the same thing. It sounds a bit far-fetched right now, but I’d wager a lot that AWS is just beginning. We all love the convenience of Amazon’s e-commerce and consumers are excited for a future with Echo, but start combining all of that with AWS and all their (sure-to-be-coming) initiatives and impossible will soon be normal.

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