The Internet of Things (IoT) isn't a new phenomenon, but it’s certainly one that’s getting a second -- a third, a fourth, a tenth -- look in recent months. Think of the ways you integrated IoT into your every day: sensors in your car that alert you to check the engine, pacemakers and high tech, hands-free medical devices, red light cameras or even the microchip in Fido.

These commonplace devices work without direct human interaction, often sending substantial amounts of information or, in some cases, responding to their environmental circumstances on their own. Today these and other essential and far flung IoT connections account for 1.9 billion devices, with Business Insider predicting upwards of 9 billion by 2018.

Real Time, Contextual Solutions

The implications for retailers? Plenty. New York-based Immersive Labs has developed interactive billboards and in-store displays that leverage facial recognition software to identify the age, gender and even the estimated attention span of the consumer along with sizing up the other people in their party. With this content “in mind” the displays deliver a targeted ad based on who’s looking along. Similar displays in Japan are upwards of 90 percent accurate in assessing the viewer.

Think of what this means for marketers. Advertise high end cold weather gear to a 30-something consumer when the temperature drops. Promote a family friendly movie when mom passes with kids in tow. Make a last minute gift suggestion on Valentine’s Day when he’s waiting for the bus -- and likely panicking.

But these IoT-based ads don’t stop there. As they cull firsthand data and metrics based on consumer engagement, the technology, in effect, gets smarter, delivering the right ads at the right time. Whether it’s a special offer from a local fast food restaurant during the evening rush, midday coffee promotions or entertainment going into the weekends, the ad learns the patterns of the environment and relevant consumers, making future outreach even more efficient and effective.

It’s that gathering of information sans human interaction that makes these things in the Internet of Things truly remarkable, replacing manmade content and solutions with more streamlined, more efficient and more cost-effective ones that, in most cases, are more accurate and better equipped for optimization and personalization than their human-derived counterparts. This highly connected advertising and marketing platform will no doubt be among the top IoT uses.

While human decisions and intuitive targeting is still a critical piece of the consumer equation, there has always been a gap in real time problem solving, especially in complex situations and unfamiliar environments. Tapping in to the IoT, automated systems can aid in effectively overcoming these challenges and increasing performance levels.

Expanding Opportunities Ahead

Earlier this month all eyes were on the always agenda-setting 2014 International CES (a.k.a. Consumer Electronics Show). Last year, the “smart” world seemed fairly isolated -- albeit, at the time, incredibly impressive. There was the HAPIfork, the first smart fork that encouraged healthier, better paced eating, the Samsung T9000 smart fridge with integrated Evernote capabilities for seamless list making and recipe referencing.