IoT Reporter Finally Feels the Spark of IoT

After nearly two years on the Internet of Things beat, I have finally figured out why others get so excited about being able to see the unseeable.
By Mary Catherine O'Connor
May 02, 2016

I write about and think about the Internet of Things every day, like it's my job. That's because it is my job.

But, ironically, I almost never participate in the IoT.

My home is completely un-smart (though it is more than 100 years old and has survived many earthquakes, so it can't be that dumb).

Alexa? Meh. If I have a question that I think the Internet can answer, I have to take that very antiquated approach to finding an answer: I have to type a query into a search engine! (Well, sometimes I do use voice-to-text.)

My car is unconnected (except for the electronic tolling transponder it carries). But it gets me where I need to go.

I have no idea how many steps I take each day.

I have an analog watch. Its purpose is to tell me the current time.

I've never purchased an IoT product because I've never found a compelling reason to own one.

But in preparing for a couple presentations I'll be giving this week—one at the Association for Automatic Identification and Mobility (AIM)'s Partnership Breakfast, as part of the RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition in Orlando, Fla., on May 4, and another during the concurrent Internet of Things Conference—I am genuinely struck by the impact and breadth of IoT technology.

There is no way I could ever truly encapsulate my past 18 months of reporting on the Internet of Things for this website into a 30-minute talk, because the list of creative applications of IoT technology—using it to literally build better mouse traps, or to improve the flow of traffic, or to track an individual's exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays—is far too long.

I think many of the IoT applications I've written about are important and could have broad commercial and societal implications—even if, as I've noted above, I'm generally not interested in using IoT devices in my daily life. That's why I'm a bit surprised by how much I'm currently geeking out about an IoT product I'm currently testing.

Last month, I reported on a company called TrackerSense, which sells tracking devices that are inserted into parcels to track both their locations and environmental conditions. Wayne Soutter, the company's founder, sent me a TrackerSense device so I could play with it on my own.

I decided to ship it off to Orlando, ahead of my arrival there this week, so that I could watch its movements via TrackerSense's cloud-based platform. Perhaps it's just the novelty of being able to cyber-watch a thing move about the world, but this is really fun—and intriguing.

Rather than ship the package overnight via FedEx or UPS, I opted to send it via USPS Priority Mail. This way, I would get to receive updates from the Post Office about the parcel's location, but I knew it would not take as direct a route as it might via an overnight delivery service.

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