The Internet of Halloween Things

October 30, 2015

At ThingWorx, we believe that with the right Internet of Things platform, developers can build just about anything they put their minds to. Even end users are beginning to look at the IoT as a blank canvas, innovating solutions to opportunities. You can IoT-enable just about anything—even Halloween. As we stock the house with candy, and do our last-minute costume shopping, let’s imagine a smart, connected neighborhood, one that could be built or bought by users themselves, and how it might transform trick-or-treating—without taking away from tradition and neighborly fun.

Connected Costumes

Let’s start with those superhero costumes your kids are going to wear. GPS sensors will allow you to track where they are in the neighborhood. They’ll also monitor how far they’ve walked, in case you trying to decide how many fistfuls of candy you’re going to allow them to shovel into their faces before trying to sleep. That Batman costume will be outfitted with its own “Bat-signal,” so that you can let your kids know that it’s time to come home. Using efficient LEDs and sensors, costumes will automatically light up as the sun goes down, and compensating for poorly lit streets and sidewalks. Costumes will even sense other connected costumes, creating proximity-based interactions such as lighting or sound effects.

The Route as an Interactive System

Cities and towns could easily connect their designated trick-or-treating zones with digital signage and controls, allowing traffic to be rerouted to ensure safety. Lighting for both the neighborhood streets and homes could sense trick-or-treaters, balancing safety and efficiency. If you’re already going to put in smart street-lighting, it wouldn’t cost much more for LED-color-control lighting, allowing Halloween to drape your local streets in the macabre-rouge lighting of an vintage Italian-cult-horror film.

Smart lighting will become an integral part of decorating the front yard, detecting nearby trick or treaters. They’ll actually become one component of entire spooky displays that are aware of foot traffic, and react intelligently. Reactive displays have the combined benefits of being more interactive for visitors, saving electricity, and sparing the homeowner from listening to looped audio of witch’s laughter and coffins creaking for 3 hours straight. Smart displays will speak with the smart costumes to detect the age of the visitors. For a 4-year-old coming up the walk with her parents, the effects and sounds might be geared to “spooky fun.” If you’ve got a pair of 12-year-olds, the effects might get ratcheted up to “sheer terror.” They could also be employed later in the evening to dissuade would-be-tricksters from decorating your front lawn with toilet paper and eggs.

Getting Smart about Candy

Using data collected from past Halloweens, kids and their parents could enter their candy preferences into an app, and generate a map of with houses most likely to dish out the candy everybody loves, (and avoid the terrible, no-good houses that give out raisin cookies, coconut bars, and bags of pennies.) You could also run analytics on your own past purchases, refining the candy-composition of your own household’s hospitality bowl, so you aren’t stuck at the end of the night with four pounds of unloved candy.

There are no Limits, and Users will Become Builders

As a brainstorming exercise, this imagined neighborhood isn’t exactly at the bleeding edge of innovation, but that’s the point. Everything described above already is possible from a technology standpoint, and it’s just a matter of adoption. What is noteworthy is that much of this smart system (aside from the traffic controls) is capable of being built be the residents of our hypothetical neighborhood. As laypeople become more savvy with the IoT, just as we did with the traditional internet, and benefit from accessible cloud resources, parents and homeowners will be able to easily build this functionality, plugging in components to create an ad-hoc smart-neighborhood. They’ll be empowered to do so, in the same way that tinkerers are already adding DIY connectivity throughout their individual homes. In many ways, we’re not waiting for the technology, but the other way around. This technology is already here, waiting for us to embrace it. The same is true for developers. Once companies realize the benefit of adopting a robust, extensible IoT platform, they’ll be able to set their developers loose, rapidly innovating IoT applications that can be combined, revised and extended in real-time.

For developers looking to turn their industrial IoT visions into reality, ThingWorx is waiting for you. Join the Developer Zone and start building today!