IoT Month: Talking To Your Things

IoT Month: Talking To Your Things

The Internet of Things (IoT, M2M) will make life easier through automation, connectivity and an abundance of information for Big Data analytics which will aid in the optimization of everything from marketing to power consumption. In this way, the Internet of Things will be invisible to most of us, at least when it’s working properly and not needing calibration. That is why it’s called the Internet of Things and not the the Internet of People, which is what we already have and just call “The Internet”.

Of course, the end user experience is only part of the equation that will allow us to have smart cities and connected cars. While the IoT is mostly invisible to non-machines, it does require human interface. The difficulty is, unlike the devices that we used for the Internet of People – smartphones, laptops, desktop computers – the things that make up the M2M network aren’t always the best places to put screens and keyboards (the later of which are quickly overstaying their welcome on smartphones anyway).

Adding to the need for user interface options is a strong demand for security. The Internet of Things is sometimes referred to as the industrial internet for a reason: it is responsible for some of our more integral processes in manufacturing, utilities and services. The threat of cyber attacks on a connected  network of smart things can be devastating in some cases, and down right creepy in others. Imagine a malware that infects home security cameras, stealing video of the inhabitants. You would not be the first to be disturbed by such a thought.

So the problem stands: how do users interface with the Internet of things securely? The answer many are coming to is a combination of voice biometrics and speech recognition solutions.

The answer is quite obvious if you think of some of the initial consumer IoT solutions currently available on store shelves. Smoke detectors, for instance, resist on-device touch interface solutions because they are meant to be installed on the ceiling of a room. A hands-free interface option offers the greatest amount of ease in terms of accessing the connected device when nearby. Add in voice biometric authentication and you have a secure and easy way to calibrate a connected smoke detector or anything either just out of reach or too small for a touch screen.

Connected car technology is another place in IoT that we are currently seeing a need for voice based interface methods. While many modern cars have touchscreen consoles in the dashboard, complex operations are best not  done by drivers whose hands should really be employed for steering. Speech based interface options are available for connected cars, and the possibilities are many. Navigation options, in car analytics, entertainment and environmental controls, these can all be given the handsfree treatment, and with a biometric spin, controlled by just authorized persons and not the average backseat driver.

With cars, voice is particularly well suited. Smartphones and wearable tech also offer human interface options for the IoT, but when driving those devices simply aren’t legal to use (though a Montreal man is fighting for his right to use an Apple Watch while driving).

Voice identification has additional benefits in terms of ease of use. The ability for a machine to differentiate between user IDs is an exciting feature currently being looked into for hands free controls in airplanes, but it can also eliminate confusion in home appliances in regards to who to listen to.

It is through our ability to be identified by the Internet of Things that we will be able to unlock its full potential. Biometric technologies of all kinds offer different applications in this regard, but voice seems to have the most readily apparent solution. In the near future, when all of the things you own can talk to each other, nothing will be more important than being able to join the conversation.


Stick with Mobile ID World throughout June as we continue to explore the Internet of Things with more featured articles and interviews. Join in on the discussion by following us on Twitter and tweeting with the hashtag #IoTMonth.