Disposable IoT - Idea Couture

Photo Credit The Preiser Project / CC

As electronic devices and hardware are increasingly miniaturized, a new type of tech is emerging – and it’s disposable. Although customers don’t necessarily think about their phones and tablets as disposable, technologies like conductive textiles and pigments, flexible and miniaturized electronics, and low power connectivity modules are creating a tipping point in evolution of our relationship with technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Chaotic Moon health diagnostics prototype is a prime example of this inclination toward single-use technology. The temporary tech tattoos are a bio-wearable that tracks user’s vital signs, early indications of fever, heart rate, and other signs of sickness. This device is highly specialized, and is used temporarily for health monitoring and then discarded or removed.

If we apply this approach to other categories, we can imagine consumers in the future purchasing low-cost, disposable sensor arrays, inputs, controllers, and even speakers and displays. This opens up a much broader realm of possibilities for all kinds of single-use devices:

/ Concert goers receiving a patch with haptics and LEDs. During the show, they can “feel” the music. The audience ultimately becomes a part of the show, lighting up as a crowd as they follow along to the music.

/ Travelers who apply a patch to everyone in their party, ensuring that nobody gets lost or separated from the group.

/ A temporary security tattoo that grants access to the user for a finite period of time and then dissolves and deactivates when passing through a gateway.

When imagined in this way, we are able to envision disposable technologies becoming the new kind of physical app. They could enable and enhance experiences or interactions in all kinds of categories and industries. IoT, therefore, cannot only be conceived of as connecting large-scale items like homes or cars – it also applies to the smaller, throwaway, quotidian items we come into contact with.