The Internet of Things is a hot topic these days, and for good reason. The connectedness of smart devices has the potential to consolidate work, increase efficiency and provide diagnostic updates in real time. Home appliances are popular items trending towards smart technology – designers envision a future in which refrigerators, washing machines and toasters can all link together and form a fully-integrated smart home.

It sounds like science-fiction, but it is happening more frequently every day. Recently, the office has joined the ranks of areas in which the Internet of Things is gaining influence. Businesses could benefit greatly by the time management, efficiency and overhead reduction an investment in smart technology could bring.

Internet of Things continues to grow
The world of interconnected devices is only expanding, according to Information Age. Reports from Gartner estimate the Internet of Things will increase to 26 billion items in 2020, while Cisco sets that number up to 50 billion by 2050. So the devices are coming. But will offices be ready for it? Already some of the biggest players like Apple and Google have devices that will directly impact the industry, and smaller companies are becoming involved as well.

While companies that sell the technology will certainly benefit, the Internet of Things will help the office itself by changing the way people use their time and resources.

"Telematics systems give fleet operators the data they need to rein in operational expenses while protecting their vehicles, drivers and bottom line," Stephen Keenan, Vice President of Verizon for Ireland and the UK, told Information Age. "City councils can also turn to Internet of Things in order to save time, money and manpower through the ability to control and monitor street lights remotely."

Startup company gets involved
A Boston startup company called Robin is developing a suite of apps and platforms that operates using Apple's iBeacon, according to Wired. Essentially, the idea is that an employee using the system can control the settings for devices in the immediate area through an iPhone or iPad. For example, one can walk into a meeting room and the platform will schedule the employee on the room calendar, give the person control of lights, projectors and other equipment all in one easy-to-use platform.

"Any place you spend eight-plus hours at daily is worth improving," Robin co-founder and CEO Sam Dunn told Wired. "And for many people, offices are a time capsule of technology."

It is likely that more of these companies will develop new ways of enhancing employees' daily life and making the office an altogether easier place to work.

Moving forward
The next challenge, as set out by a group of Slovakian researchers, is to make the office technology flexible and scalable, reported CMS Wire. The team wants to "design a proper structure of Internet of Things-based Smart Office applications" with an adaptable architecture, infrastructure and open interface. This way, technology can be altered in order to fit into specific business and user needs.

Ideally, the Internet of Things will save the office money and time by consolidating equipment, managing time and resources better and prioritizing deadlines. With these developments, the office will become a modern and streamlined environment representative of the technology era.

Office technology industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in office technology equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.