Vodafone develops prototype of connected ‘Smart Summer’ designs




Vodafone has developed a suite of Internet of Things (IoT) proof-of-concept connected ‘Smart Summer’ holiday essentials to help protect against UV, keep children safe on the beach and locate lost luggage.

The Vodafone Smart Summer’ 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 light. The swimwear also contains a small vibrating alert built into the waistband and strap. The concept ‘Smart Summer’ 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 concept ‘Smart Summer’ suitcase includes embedded tracking technology to enable the owner to geolocate missing luggage via their smartphone.

The ‘Smart Summer’ concept designs were developed as a pan-European survey commissioned by Vodafone from YouGov found that nearly half (48%) of respondents forgot to apply sunscreen on holiday with three-quarters (76%) saying they would be more likely to cover up if they had received an automated alert. 30% of respondents also said themselves or a travel companion had lost luggage while travelling.

The online YouGov study found a strong level of consumer 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 Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK: 33% said they wanted wearable technology of the future to analyse air quality; blood pressure monitoring was important to 50% of respondents; 40% felt they would benefit from monitoring of their stress levels while 36% wanted to monitor their hydration.

In the UK survey, others had more unusual expectations of what wearable technology may be able to do in the distant future, with ‘teleport me to different locations’ (39%), ‘alert me when someone is telling a lie’ (27%), ‘make me invisible’ (27%) and ‘change my physical appearance’ (18%)  among the favourite choices from the given list.

The Internet of Things revolution

Vodafone’s ‘Smart Summer’ concept designs use current IoT technologies to demonstrate potential applications for network intelligence in everyday consumer devices. The bikini, swim shorts, sun hat and suitcase contain embedded hardware with a battery life of around one week. By the end of 2017, a new generation of IoT devices will reach the market, adding even greater momentum to the connected devices revolution. The hardware within ‘Narrowband IoT’ 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 – recent research found that Vodafone’s global IoT networks will be able to support more than one million devices simultaneously per square kilometre.

Separate research from Vodafone recently indicated that IoT is already entering the mainstream for many companies. More than three-quarters of 1,100 enterprise and public-sector executives surveyed across 17 countries said that taking advantage of IoT technologies will be critical for future success, while more than half of consumer technology companies said they intended to bring new IoT products and services to market within the next two years.

Vodafone Group Director of IoT Erik Brenneis, said: “The Vodafone ‘Smart Summer’ concept illustrates how the Internet of Things has the potential to reshape every aspect of our daily lives. Companies in every industry are already embracing IoT technologies and see these as critical to their future. The launch of new Narrowband IoT networks next year will take this remarkable revolution to a whole new level.”

The ‘Smart Summer’ proof-of-concept designs combine three separate tracking methods and two different communication methods. Low-power Bluetooth technology is used for near-range tracking, showing the user’s proximity to the child’s sun hat or suitcase using ‘hotter’ or ‘colder’ graphical representations on the smartphone app. GPS and GSM mobile base station triangulation are used in parallel for longer-range tracking, displaying the location of the child’s sun hat or luggage on a map on the smartphone. These are supported by Vodafone’s world-leading dedicated global IoT network already relied upon by a range of sectors.




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