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Santa's New Helper: Internet of Things' Role in Christmas

With Christmas in a few days, we decided to lighten it up for two reasons. First off, you’re probably not working too hard today (or maybe you’re cramming to get it all done and this article will flop), but second, we wanted to wish everyone a happy holiday season.

These days, Santa’s got a bit more help than in the old days, and a lot of it comes down to the power of the Internet of Things (IoT). Here’s what Christmas looks like in the IoT age:

Elves

The little guys may be able to retire, or at least cut back on some of the crazy hours they work leading up to Christmas. The IoT has led to smart assembly lines that can automatically power equipment on or off through a network of sensors and remote control. That’ll save the elves from having to physically flip switches at the right time. You can learn more about what TI is doing with smart assembly lines.

The Polar Express

As the Polar Express jugs up to the North Pole these days, it’s communicating data back to Polar Express headquarters in real time. That’s because the Internet of Things has made locomotives smart. These machines (like the one GE has built at #5 here) track and report back about hundreds of thousands of data points.

The Sleigh

We should all give Santa a ton of credit still, but that doesn’t mean we can’t point out that he’s riding in style these days. Santa now has a remote starter (an IoT app that uses Bluetooth to communicate from his your keys to the car, for example) so he can get the sled nice and warm for takeoff.

Santa’s Route

In that fancy IoT sleigh, Santa can provide a way for the North Pole to track where he is through GPS. This type of asset device is a classic IoT application used for assets, pets, and more. And as he treks along through the night, smart street lights will light his way.

Christmas Lights

No longer do families have to walk around to each window and the tree to shut off Christmas lights every year. With smart Christmas lights, you can control them remotely from a mobile application. In this example, you can even change colors from the app.

Mistletoe

Want to spice up your holiday party a bit? A motion sensing mistletoe could play music when someone is standing under it. We haven’t seen this as an actual product (and we don’t plan to build it ourselves), but it’s possible and easy to build.

Gifts

You’ve probably heard about the Nest Learning Thermostat. We have one in our office. It’s pretty popular these days, and we’re assuming it’ll be a top tech gift this Christmas. The thermostat learns your schedule and programs itself to shut off when you’re not around. It can also be controlled remotely from your smartphone. Keep an eye out for one coming your way this Christmas.

So that wraps it up. You can see how different Christmas looks in 2014 with the advancements made in the Internet of Things world. If you’re new here, and want to know why we’re writing about this, you can learn more about the wireless networks we build to power IoT applications.

Otherwise, keep in touch on Twitter, and have a safe and happy holiday.


IoT Protocol Selection White Paper

Written by Brian Ray

Brian is the Founder and CTO of Link Labs. As the chief technical innovator and leader of the company, Brian has led the creation and deployment of a new type of ultra long-range, low-power wireless networking which is transforming the Internet of Things and M2M space.

Before starting Link Labs, Brian led a team at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab that solved communications and geolocation problems for the national intelligence community. He was also the VP of Engineering at the network security company, Lookingglass, and served for eight years as a submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and received his Master’s Degree from Oxford University.

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