We all know the feeling. You've relaxed for a little too long on the beach, maybe fallen asleep for a while in the warm sun. Before you know it, you've got that sinking feeling as you realise you're sunburnt.

A pan-European survey commissioned by Vodafone from YouGov showed how common this is, finding that nearly half (48%) of respondents had forgotten to apply sunscreen on holiday at some point. We also asked if people would be more likely to cover up if they had received an automated alert to their phone about UV levels, and three-quarters (76%) said that they would.

In response, and to help demonstrate the incredible potential of the Internet of Things (IoT), Vodafone has created a suite of proof-of-concept designs that help protect against UV, keep children safe on the beach and locate lost luggage.

These Smart Summer designs underline the potential of NB IoT.  We’re not about to put these proof-of-concept items into stores, but they do show how simple ideas like this – powered by Vodafone’s world-leading Internet of Things technologies and networks - could one day lead to a new generation of smart, connected products that change people’s daily lives.

The possibilities for IoT are soon going to be even greater with the introduction of Narrowband Internet of Things (NBIoT) in 2017. NBIoT devices will be ultra low-power (typical battery life will exceed 10 years on a single charge), small, very cheap (typically costing no more than a few dollars each) and will use very little wireless bandwidth.

The Vodafone Smart Summer concept bikini and men’s swim shorts are equipped with UV sensors that track exposure to sunlight throughout the day. A smartphone app notifies the user when they have had too much exposure to UV.

The Smart Summer concept child’s sun hat contains a UV sensor plus a low-powered Vodafone SIM and tracking device which sends a warning message to the parent’s smartphone if the child wanders beyond a pre-determined distance.

The Smart Summer suitcase concept also includes Vodafone tracking technology to enable the owner to geolocate missing luggage via their smartphone.

Separate research from Vodafone recently indicated that we’re going to be seeing a lot more IoT in our lives with more than half of consumer technology companies surveyed saying they intend to bring new IoT products and services to market within the next two years.

And consumer appetite appears to be growing. Our YouGov study found a strong level of interest in IoT-enabled wearable technology designed to help to enhance health and wellbeing and keep families safe. Of the 8,653 people surveyed across Europe: 33% said they wanted the next generation of wearable technology to analyse air quality; blood pressure monitoring was important to 50% of respondents; 40% felt they would benefit from constant monitoring of their stress level; and 36% wanted to monitor their hydration.  

With NBIoT so close, some of these devices may not be as far away as you might think. Our Smart Summer concept designs show what a difference IoT could make to our lives in the future, making sunburn and lost luggage easier to avoid – but these are just a few ideas out of billions of potential ‘things’ that can be connected to the internet to improve our lives in the future.

Smart Summer