In her 1972 hit single 'You're So Vain', Carly Simon sang: "I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee." Today, thanks to clever use of IoT technology, consumers can get coffee in the cloud – and, though it may sound like a gimmick, the benefits are wide-ranging.
Coffee is a product with a particularly long chain leading from consumer to producer, which means that the people who grow the beans don't always get their fair share of the profits. Berlin-based tech start-up Bonaverde aims to change that with its Roast-Grind-Brew Coffee Machine, which leverages the power of the IoT to disrupt the supply chain and cut out the middleman.
As the name implies, it's a machine that can sit on a kitchen counter and create a delicious cup of coffee from the raw ingredients. The clever part is that it is connected to the Coffee Cloud – a virtual marketplace, accessed via a free smartphone app and hosted by the Gemalto IoT device-to-cloud platform, where consumers can buy coffee beans direct from the producers, amongst other things. The farmers, with the help of a regional packaging and distribution partner, ship the beans in packages embedded with RFID tags. These tags are encoded with instructions for optimum roasting and brewing which the Coffee Machine can scan and carry out.
Because every package of beans is traceable, the farmers can see exactly where in the world their produce is being consumed. More importantly, by cutting roasters, shippers and retailers out of the supply chain, the Bonaverde system has doubled the farmers' profits.
Good things are coming
Bonaverde's innovation is a great example of the ever-growing Internet of Good Things – the umbrella term for applications of the IoT that bring tangible benefits for society and help to bring about a more sustainable world.
The potential of many of these applications is outlined in the Smarter 2030 report from the Global e-Sustainability Initiative, published in 2016. Areas where the IoT can make a difference include:
- Smart devices with an internet connection that will enable people to monitor their own health. For example, the iTBra, developed by Cyrcadia Health, uses embedded temperature sensors to track changes in temperature in breast tissue over time. The data is transmitted wirelessly to the user's mobile phone and shared securely with her healthcare provider, which analyzes it in order to identify abnormal patterns that may be indicative of early stage breast cancer.
- eLearning solutions that can reach students irrespective of physical, economic or cultural boundaries. Probably the most widespread example today is Microsoft's Skype in the Classroom, a free global community connecting students, guest speakers and more than 100,000 teachers from over 200 countries, providing a shared learning experience in more than 60 different languages.
- IoT-powered smart cities or smart grids that can maximize energy efficiency. The smart city of Songdo in South Korea (begun in 2002 and due to be completed in 2020) is built around IoT networks designed to ensure that its buildings, transportation system and infrastructure are as efficient as possible.
- Smart mobility solutions such as self-driving cars and car-sharing platforms that can help to optimize traffic flows and reduce fuel consumption, as well as the number of cars on the road. You can read more about this on our special multimedia microsite, Road to revolution: from connected cars to new mobility.
- Digital technologies that can make food production more efficient by enhancing crop yield, reducing waste and easing access to markets. According to The Nature Conservancy, smart technology can enable farmers to cut their use of water and fertilizers by up to 40% without reducing yields.
These are just a few of many examples of innovative technology being used to help make the world a better place. As IoT technology continues to evolve, the Internet of Good Things is set to transform our lives over the coming years.