There seems to be a million definitions of 'digital marketing'? floating around, but at the core, this term simply means the use of technology in marketing. Contemporarily, this refers to applications that exist on our laptops, tablets, desktops, televisions, or mobile devices. However, the breadth of technology that this term, 'digital marketing'?, applies to has started to drastically expand.
Increasingly, communication can occur on extraordinary platforms, including physical objects. Futurists call this phenomenon, of translating real world objects to the Web, the Internet of Things. Internet-connected devices can now publish data that are measurable by censors or RFID tags. This data could provide better product recommendations, reveal patterns in everyday activities, or be integrated into our social networks. There are so many possibilities'each one creepier than the last!
By the year 2020, forecasters expect there to be 22 billion Internet-connect devices. Here's a list of my favorite applications and concepts that are being developed.
Acting on your road rage. Bump.com allows fellow drivers, as well as businesses, to connect with a driver through license plate recognition. The technology uses a camera, attached to your own license plate, which is able to very quickly read surrounding plates. Next time you get cut off'or want to ask for the girl's number that you've been trailing in rush hour traffic'you can simply scan their license plate with your smartphone and message them directly, or post a negative rating. This kind of technology could have several other applications (besides just alleviating your road rage) like automated check-ins, or the ability to associate a vehicle with an in-store purchase.
Texting with your dishwasher. Although still a concept, innovators have been throwing around ideas about a future kitchen where all your appliances can be communicated with via SMS. One idea takes inventory of your refrigerator, crafting your next grocery list or letting you know when an item's about to expire. Another allows you to bake cookies, remotely. Some suggestions are as simple as allowing for SMS messaging when your coffee is done brewing. Futurists are saying these kinds of functions are actually closer than we think; and predict they will be integrated into our own home appliances in the near future.
Remote-controlling your car with your iPhone. A new innovation (by AutoBot) does more than unlock your car doors'it allows you to find your lost car in a parking lot, performs diagnostic checks, and messages family when you've been in an accident. As a data nerd, I think being able to log data about your driving patterns or the health of your car has huge potential. Of course, Google has taken this idea one step further and has begun producing cars that drive themselves.
Giving your heart its own IP address. As trust builds, consumers will increasingly start using apps for medical purposes. My favorite example allows you to receive text messages from your own organs. Researchers (at IMEC) have developed something called a BAN (that is, a Body Area Network) which is able to communicate with a user's cell phone, while also updating their doctor. This technology can work with sensors that monitor your heart, your brain, or your muscles, and could be marketed to fitness enthusiasts'?¦ or hypochondriacs? This new kind of healthcare doesn't stop there. Other applications are being testing: like pills (by Novartis) that have censors directly in them that can text you with dosage and timing information.
These are just a few of the applications that are being dreamt up by technologists. It's becoming inevitable that objects will start to have identities of their own, be able to tell their own history and be connected to the Web. Devices (such as GPS unites or Internet-connected TVs) have even begun to outpace human subscriptions on both ATT and Verizon networks. It won't be long until status updates from more unexpected objects, like your microwave, start appearing in your News Feed.
Entrepreneurs have begun to catch on and are capitalizing on this opportunity. For more information, check out some of these key start-ups in the space.
Pachube.com: a platform for tracking real-time data of censored-objects
Thingd.com: a 'database of stuff'?
Stickybits.com: allows you to form user-generated clouds (threaded conversations of video, photos and text) around physical objects, especially CPGs
Itsmyurls.com: generates identifying QR codes (used for resumes, social profiles, etc)
Itizen.com: allows you to tag a product or a gift with 'a story'?