Last updated: 09:58 AM ET, Tue July 14 2015

What Is The Internet Of Things And How Will It Affect Travel?

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | July 14, 2015

What Is The Internet Of Things And How Will It Affect Travel?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

You may have heard the term "Internet of Things" (IoT) casually thrown around, but it really demands a closer look, because this is some amazing stuff. So what is it? The IoT is the network of all of the objects, devices, animals, and people that will be assigned unique identifiers and be able to communicate together with little or no human interaction.  And believe it or not, it is already upon us.

The concept can be seen in Nest thermostats and Phillips Hue connected light bulbs.  When you open a hotel door with your smartphone at Starwood or Hilton hotels, or activate that GPS collar on your dog, you are using things on the IoT. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Experts say that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.

What’s Coming to the Travel World?

You already have local key and personal item finders like Tile that put a Bluetooth signal out so that you can find them with your phone and there are luggage companies out there right now like Bluesmart that have bags that come both Bluetooth and GPS enabled so you can always find out where they ran off to. But if we look forward just a little bit, we can see this technology becoming even more prevalent.

Your toothbrush will beep at you before you close the rest of your travel kit because it was forgotten and the shaving cream has already added itself to your grocery list because it was detected that the canister was close to empty.

When you stop to get lunch at the airport, your phone will go off before you can become late for a plane and it gives you the fastest route to your gate. Pre-purchases for transit passes when you disembark your plane, or automatic orders for Uber are done in real time in the background so you don’t have to worry about scheduling any of them.

Preferences for everything you like from pillows to mini bar have already been fulfilled before you get to your room and as you throw those used bottles of water (or booze) away, housekeeping is already loading them into their cart for the next day. The Nest with anticipate your favorite room temperature and automatically adjust the hotel room to that just-right level. Your DVR is up in the cloud and you can access all of its content from any television or device anywhere. 

The gym program that you have at your home gym automatically transfers all of your settings to the gym at the hotel and the bartender already knows what you like to drink as you walk in the bar door. Your phone knows that you had Mexican for dinner last night and pizza for lunch so it avoids those cuisine types when making suggestions. 


The biggest problem on everyone’s mind right now is privacy and security. Obviously you are sharing a lot data with the world and all of that data needs to be encrypted. Another problem is that you have to be able to have a standard operating system across all devices. Apple, Android, Windows or anyone else for that matter, we will have to get along for this to work flawlessly. 

The biggest problem that we are going to have with the IoT as it continues to grow is the one thing the human race is losing more and more of every day: faith. Everyone is going to have to trust that the technology will wake them up at the right time and make their coffee the right way. They will have to trust that the car will arrive on time to pick them up and that the wait times for security that are displayed on their phone are correct. Faith that the plane will get them there in one piece and the luggage will arrive on time. That there will be a proper room waiting and the correct pillow will be in its place.

Oh, and faith that someone, somewhere, hopefully has access to a pencil and paper should the electricity go out all across the country.


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