Illuminating Our Times

We all know IoT doesn’t really stand for the title I wrote above…

The Internet of Things revolution has taken off. It allows almost everything to happen in our daily lives. Most of time we don’t even know we’re using these the things; your smart watch, your FitBit, your phone, Cortana and Siri, getting your food delivered, there are endless applications for IoT. So much so that people are seeing these things as gimmicks, calling it the Internet of S**t.

Concept of Smart Home and Control Device
So many things. Image credit to Computer Magazine

But there’s more to IoT than simply consumer based tech. The IoT Festival held in Melbourne a couple weeks ago showed the huge potential for IoT. I attended the conference and wanted to share some thoughts and insights on it.

IoT Festival held in Melbourne

When someone says IoT, what do you think of? You might think about some of the things I’ve spoken above, you might think about self-driving cars, or thoughts of the term “smart” might come to mind. I mean really, everyone is calling everything “smart”; smartphones, smartwatches, smartcars, smartfridges… the list goes on. Yes these things are IoT but there’s so many others that will take our society, our world, to the next level.

The IoT Conference was host to a number of companies working in this field. From KPMG, to Microsoft, Telstra, government, agriculture, Google, Bosch and more… so many are working on IoT. So let’s focus on some of the key categories presented.


I’m going to jump straight to the IoT cup hackathon. The hackathon happened the weekend before the conference, with the top five teams giving their final pitches to the panel of judges at the end of the IoT Festival. This was a very nice tie into what had been talked about all day. All these fantastic concepts were talked about and then participants were able to see how they apply, by watching creative people jump up on stage and talk about what they built in just two days.

There were a couple of tracking devices, using smart technology for mobility car parking, providing you with real-time information on which car parking spaces were available. Another two teams presented different ideas for smart devices for independent living, giving families and loved-ones information on what was happening in their parents or grandparents homes. Then there was a smart box for ensuring people took their medication at the right times. So lots in the home/aged care area. The winners however looked at something slightly different.

Veggie Port took home the trophy for their “grow your own veggies” IoT solution that allowed you to plant seeds and grow food easily. The seeds are put into the port/pod and are in monitored for their water and nutrient levels, providing what they need to grow the best and thereby producing the best food. Well done to the team, and funnily enough, I spotted the cup and the device at a recent Code Like a Girl meetup – hope they continue their product as there is some potential for it. Veggie Port is also a nice segway into one of the IoT areas I wanted to talk about… agriculture.

Veggie Port was dubbed the Nespresso for food; it’s instant, it’s quick


This industry is so important for Australia. Our country’s history stems from the growing of crops to the exporting of fine Merino wool. It’s part of our culture and part of how our country came to be a player on a global scale. As the world moves on however, we need to move with it. Agriculture still plays a critical part in our country’s economy. With most of Australia being flat, wide, open landscapes, we need to know how to utilise the land, to support our nation and continue to export to the world. So how do we do this in the modern age?

Welcome to IoT. Connected devices can have massive impacts on agricultural production, if used correctly. Unfortunately many of the decisions made in agriculture come from people who aren’t necessarily onsite. A CEO of a big ag company might be hundreds of kilometres way, or a governing body of the district could be located in a capital city, miles away from the farm… yet they are calling the shots. With IoT, devices can send messages and alerts to these people about the state of crops, the levels of water, nutrients etc. so that people can start making informed decisions about things that ultimately affect the output of production.

Some of these applications include plugging Watson into devices to monitor historical weather and more, livestock monitoring, precision agriculture, management and control, as well as farm and machinery safety. There’s so many ways it can be used and there’s lots of companies in Melbourne focusing on AgTech, including an AgTech specific accelerator SproutX.


I thought this was a good one to build on from agriculture, as drones have tonnes of applications in our daily lives, but also in agriculture. Drones can be used for surveillance and monitoring (crops, stock, the general lay of the land) or can be utilised instead of planes for delivery of water and nutrients.

Similar to agriculture, drones have huge potential in surveillance, especially due to increasing quality and stability of camera technology. This flows into their applications in videography and photography. It was interesting though that one of the speakers asked the room, “if you saw a drone flying over your house, would you try and shoot it down?” 90% of the room put their hand up. Whether it was because they were afraid of the drone taking incriminating photos, or if people try and gun it down just for fun, I’m not sure. I certainly put up my hand for the latter.

Delivery drones is something people talk about A LOT! Whether it’s delivering your pizza, your packages from Amazon, or providing you with a defibrillator quicker than an ambulance could, drone delivery has massive potential, but not without its challenges to overcome – drone pirates (hijacking or commandeering drones), safety, flight paths and more.

These things (drones and robots) are great because they help our industries grow and be more efficient. But they are also for fun – flying, racing, games, there’s lots of opportunities for drones to be used for a number of reasons. Let me know in the comments what you want to see drones used for.

Self-driving cars

I have to talk about this one, only because there’s so much hype around it. No joke, there is legit about three or four news articles on this every single day. The question is no longer about if, but when, and what they will look like. According to Anna Newberry, the biggest threat to self-driving cars is the security and safety, both of the people driving and those around, makes sense right?

But the discussions didn’t just go into the ifs and whats, but more about once this tech takes off, who will own the car market? Will it be manufacturers who then lend the cars, will it be something like Uber? What about the insurance companies like AAMI or RACV? What do you think the future for autonomous vehicles will be?

One of the most interesting things I found, is that most of our cars already have aspects of “self driving” in them. There are levels of self-driving. Level 1 is just us driving the car. Level 3 are things like cruise control, and driver assistance. Everyone knows these things are in the car, but just considers them an aid. If we consider them as a level of self-driving, then it’s easy to see how the tech can progress to Level 5 – the car is driving itself.

The extent of IoT

Well there were tonnes more things talked about, but there’s already heaps here so I won’t bore you with the whole lot. Just to quickly jot them down, other topics covered included IoT for connected networks and telecommunications, how to use IoT for management and logistics, 5D data, connected cities and communities, IoT for AR and VR, applications for HoloLens, robotics, manufacturing, and… as always, the future of IoT.

What is the future? We usually get things wrong, but what will tomorrow bring?

What are your favourite IoT solutions? What do you think it can be used for? What should it be used for? Let me know in the comments and hope you enjoyed reading.


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