Innovating the way we move and work with IoT

By | 4 minute read | January 12, 2017

Digital innovation is driving changes in the way we work. IBM has been at the forefront of this movement, working with clients to drive the development of technology to improve professional mobility and productivity.

There are several challenges to overcome in the way that employees travel to and from work environments. Likewise, there are undeniable frustrations within the workplace that employees face while interacting with each other in the office. We have seen two companies that are finding new ways to use digital technology and the Internet of Things to improve mobility and productivity of professionals.


Schaeffler and the future of mobility

I saw a 3-D demonstration of the future of mobility presented by Schaeffler at CES in Las Vegas. Mobility is only as good as the environment it is being applied to and Schaeffler has invented a new personal transportation vehicle for professionals in urban environments. Cities that are planning for new ways of mobility are paving the way for new modes of movement and becoming more attractive to modern workers because their quality of life increases. These cities are developing light vehicle paths for bicycles, scooters and small electric vehicles.

The Bio-Hybrid Pedelac

Schaeffler is working on a project called Mobility For Tomorrow to research and develop intelligent solutions with a particular focus on electric mobility. The Bio-Hybrid Pedelac is a mix of a car and an electric bicycle that combines the benefits of both forms of transport. It is a futuristic pod seating one rider, emphasizing comfort and flexible weather protection where the convertible top can rotate down in sunny weather.

The Bio-Hybrid requires no driver’s license or registration and results in higher traffic safety. This personal electric vehicle has a portable battery system with easy charging. This vehicle can be provided as a ride share for employees to get to and from their work campus and has self parking features to provide easy ways to efficiently navigate the campus and storage in mini-garages on campus during charging.

The Bio-Hybrid is an electrically assisted ride with a starting boost and recuperation mode assistance features. With a range of 50-100 km, professionals can use the electric vehicle with ease around the city and suburbs. While on the go around the workplace and home, urban professionals enjoy advanced connectivity by linking their smart phone to the center of the handle, staying connected to the employee cloud seamlessly. I can imagine ways the Bio-Hybrid could provide infotainment, weather and home connectivity with Watson Cognitive Mobility.

Schaeffler’s design and development Bio-Hybrid concept is an innovative pilot project for the mobility of tomorrow. This personal electric vehicle was on display for us to see in person at CES and NAIAS and is quite a futuristic sight to behold. Check out this video featuring the Bio-Hybrid at CES.


Harman and office productivity

HARMAN Pro is seeking new ways to improve office productivity using voice enabled technology. They demonstrated a new smart speaker from JBL at CES to me that uses IBM Watson Internet of Things to improve the way we will work in the office. Imagine the following scenario in your office:

“Hey everyone, welcome to the call. We are going to start in a minute or two.”

“Okay, we need to get this video conference started.”

“Hmm, it’s saying I need a plug-in to activate the video on my machine. Does anyone know how to do that?”

“I can’t figure out how to start this presentation in display mode. Has anyone used this remote before?”

Does this sound familiar? I’m sure you have experienced similar pains starting video conferences, conference calls, setting up presentations and other situations while starting meetings at work. The amount of time wasted by teams in work environments is frustrating. It’s often caused by a mismatch in technology and by not knowing how to operate the different user interfaces and devices that are supposed to connect us for meetings. Cognitive technology and the internet of things can change all of this. Now, imagine this very different scenario:

Bob: “Hey JBL, start a video conference with London.”

JBL: “I see there is a scheduled video conference with London. I am now joining.”

Bob: “Hey JBL, add Scott to the conference.”

JBL: “I am now adding Scott to the conference.”

Bob: “Hey JBL, please present from the room PC called ‘CES IoT tech trends’ in slideshow mode.”

JBL: “Okay, I am now showing the presentation from the room PC.”

[Meeting discussion]

Bob: “Hey JBL, please end my video conference and save the meeting.”

JBL: “Okay, now ending and saving the meeting.”

[Co-workers leave the room and go to lunch]

Bob: “Hey JBL, turn off the lights.”

JBL: “Okay, I am turning off the lights. Have a good day!”


I saw this scenario in action live at CES with the HARMAN Pro and IBM Watson IoT teams live in a mock office environment. Just imagine being able to talk to your conference room with Watson on a JBL smart speaker rather than fiddle around with a remote control you’ve never seen before or deal with computer settings to manage your meetings. Think of all the time saved for entire teams of people over the course of the work day, week, or year in common scenarios like this.

The future of digital transformation

Cognitive Internet of Things becomes most helpful to people when the user interface becomes natural and in essence, invisible. Digital transformation is going to change the way we work and I, for one, cannot wait to work with Watson!