Your Egg Carton is Trying to Tell You Something: The Future of Things

This week, we told you about the tech malaise that Millennials are experiencing. Though they want the latest and greatest new devices, even those on their wishlists aren’t managing to impress them the way that technology used to. So what will be the tech that manages to break the spell and wake up their interest the way that their first smartphone was able to? For years tech insiders have been talking about the Internet of Things: a world where everyday objects can communicate with us, and each other, through the internet, creating a connected space where our belongings will be smarter, more efficient, and make our lives easier. Imagine your alarm clock telling your coffee pot to turn on, or your car texting you when it needs an oil change. Now, after years of being a concept that most had never heard of, and couldn’t imagine coming true if they did, the Internet of Things is becoming a reality. Previously static and inert household items are becoming fixed with sensors and turned into intelligent things that can let their owners know when they are empty, low, need attention, or adjust automatically according to commands and their ambient environment. Business Insider predicts that 9 billion devices will be connected by 2018. If the Internet of Things (or IoT) pans out, it could not only be the next movement to shake up Millennial’s malaise and capture their attention (and wallets) it could also change the way that the next generation—Plurals—views the world around them.

So how close are we to an IoT world? Here are three current projects that are making smart devices a part of our lives right now, and are at the forefront of growing the IoT from a niche concept to a mainstream reality: 

1. Quirky & GE’s Smart Devices 
Some major brands are starting to prepare for the Internet…

 
 

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The Newsfeed

“I don't spend money, really on anything. I enjoy video games and will enjoy getting video games, but I receive as gifts from grandparents, parents”—Female, 14, IA

Airbnb is booming in Africa, where young travelers are “looking for culture rather than comfort.” Over two million people have used Airbnb in Africa to book vacation accommodations in the last five years, reportedly earning African hosts $139 million in just the past year. Wanderlusting Millennials are pushing themselves out of their comfort zones to discover new places, rather than retread old ground, and locales like Africa are getting a boost because of it. (Quartz)

Nielsen says they finally have a way to measure Netflix viewership—but Netflix says they’re way off base. Nielsen claims they can keep track of all viewing on the platform, including originals, “whether or not a studio or network wants them to.” Netflix claims, “The data that Nielsen is reporting is not accurate, not even close, and does not reflect the viewing of these shows on Netflix.” Ouch. Regardless, Nielsen’s move is a step in the right direction to measure what The Post-TV Genis watching, and has “direct implications for the ad business.” (MediaPostAdAgeFortune)

Influencers are using Instagram’s new polling feature, beating brands to the punch. Influencer network Blog Lovin’ found that 66% of their followers (many of which are influencers) had already used polling, while 87% plan to in the future. Polling is not only an opportunity to engage with customers but a way for brands to “[ask] for feedback about products, creat[e] engagement around topics that are in the media and [conduct] market research.” But brands have been slow to ask influencers to use the new story feature for promotions or to utilize the feature on their standalone accounts. (Glossy)

High school students are increasingly taking college courses—but little is known about whether it will benefit them. Thanks to dual-enrollment programs, which are expanding rapidly, students can get a head start on college credits, cutting down on the cost of higher education. Some also argue that Advanced Placement courses are more rigorous, and worthier of students’ extra effort. However, the impacts of programs on “a diverse set of students” is not yet known. (WSJ)

Kids have online influencers too, and they’re pushing branded toys to devoted viewers. Unboxing videos on YouTube are not a new phenomenon, but kid stars unboxing toys are getting brands’ attention as a way to leverage The Influencer Effect. MGA Entertainment, the world’s largest private toy company, pivoted 90% of their ad spend to digital in 2014 and report the strategy is paying off. Studies show children’s attention is switching from cable to YouTube, and influencers help brands reach a “much more engaged smaller audience” and give them “that potential for virality.” (Bloomberg)

"I love coffee and love the experience of having someone make me a nice latte. I like being around other people and hanging out in restaurants or cafes.”—Female, 20, PA

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