Blog / Five Useful IoT Products for the Office
The ever-expanding line of IoT products actually has valid business use cases.
From watches to toothbrushes to coffee makers, the Internet of Things (IoT) market has exploded over the last several years. Unfortunately, thanks to high-profile failures like Google Glass and bizarre options like smart deodorant sticks, the IoT’s developed a bad reputation as something of a joke, especially for businesses. However, although it’s true that some manufacturers haven’t quite realized no one needs things like a smart hairbrush, the market has matured substantially over the years. That’s why we decided it’s time to give IoT business devices their proper due.
It should be noted that we’ll using “IoT device” and “smart” interchangeably throughout this article, so please remember that the two terms may not be synonymous in other contexts (like how smart phones aren’t considered IoT devices even though they’re “smart.”) With that out of the way, let’s take a look at five of the most useful IoT products for businesses:
- Smart locks and security cameras
- Voice assistants
- Coffee makers
Smart locks and security cameras
The first IoT products you might want to consider for your office are smart locks. The majority of them are easy to install, and they have more uses than seem obvious at first. Sure, it’s neat using an app to unlock doors wirelessly, especially the ones that have proximity unlocking features that connect to your phone and automatically unlock when you get close. However, smart locks also automatically keep entry/exit logs which offers better control and security for sensitive areas such as server or financial hard copy record rooms. Temporary access codes and access schedules are other features that help you manage access, particularly for maintenance and cleaning services.
IoT security cameras are another device that SMBs can use to improve their physical security, particularly when paired with smart locks. Not only can you access their feeds remotely, allowing you to check in on your offices on a whim, but their recordings get automatically uploaded to the cloud so you never have to worry about memory limitations on the actual device. Some even use artificial intelligence to analyze footage in real time. This lets them do both important things like send alerts/notifications when they see something anomalous, and neat convenient things like unlock a smart locked door as you approach.
Smart locks and cameras also provide access to logs and recordings in real time without involving your security or alarm company. This saves time and promotes greater scrutiny as employers tend to review information that is readily at hand, rather than the laborious and time-consuming process of requesting it from a 3rd party.
Thermostats are among the first devices that got smartened up by the IoT revolution, and for obvious reasons. The ability to monitor and control your HVAC remotely is great, as is proactively scheduling heating and cooling cycles when they’re needed, rather than wasting money heating the office on evenings and weekends. Not only are they excellent for controlling utility costs on their own, but many are so smart they use machine learning to analyze your office use and adjust the temperature appropriately, saving you even more. And remote overrides are easy with a secure access from your phone.
While any one with a smartphone has access to a voice-activated assistant, having an actual smart product such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Nest at work office isn’t as strange as it once was. In fact, the devices are becoming ubiquitous in offices everywhere. That’s because they’re truly useful and not just glorified shopping lists. For example, voice assistants can control complex board room AV gear, adjust lighting and temperature, and even control other IoT devices such as your camera system. Additional skills can be added (or removed) as required from a vast and continually updating library. This not only expands their usefulness but also means their skillset is constantly growing.
The bane of the office worker, printers are notoriously unreliable both at home and in the workplace. They’re famous for breaking down, ruining documents, or just plain not working when you need to print that report or deliver a proposal.
IoT printers help take some of the pain out of the printing process. Smart printers monitor their own paper and ink and deliver notifications to support staff. Some are smart enough to be connected directly to inventory systems and can automatically reorder supplies when needed or dispatch a technician when a mechanical problem is detected. Although they still run into the occasional paper jam or stalled print queue, IoT printers help you get in front of maintenance issues and keep the presses rolling.
It’s a remarkably minor thing, but a nice cup of coffee in the morning is a must-have for most people (no offense to our tea-drinking audience). Now, to be entirely honest, this was put on the list as a bit of a lark to end on a fun note, but it turns out an IoT coffee maker has real benefits. Not only do they provide the same morale and productivity boosts that keeping a normal coffee maker around the office provides, but their ability to monitor supplies and automate cycles means less time spent on brewing and maintenance.
The IoT market’s impressive growth is expected to continue, so future iterations of current and new devices are likely to have more features and be even more useful. It’s true that IoT products can represent a security risk, but a properly-managed a robust cyber security program (which you should already have) will be able to protect devices as well as databases. So, regardless of whether you’d like advice on how to integrate new IoT devices into your office, you want to develop a stronger cyber security program for devices you already use, or you just need additional cloud storage for archiving smart camera feeds, contact your TRINUS account manager today.
The TRINUS Team