Campuses have already connected a wide array of objects to the digital world, including parking meters, washing machines and library stands that show where books are located.
The internet of things technology has the potential to change the way buildings are designed and constructed. For colleges and universities, that could mean enabling people to control the temperature at their individual workstations or light a path in a hallway from a smartphone.
“The internet of things is very, very early in the higher education market,” says higher ed technology consultant Mark Valenti of The Sextant Group. “There’s a lot of hype right now and a lot of smoke and mirrors. But the interest in smart buildings and classrooms has absolutely mushroomed in the last few years.”
At Clark College in Washington, a culinary facility that is being renovated will feature electronic menu systems that let users order food from their smartphones. The technology also allows the dining center to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act—people who are blind or who have impaired vision can place an order using a screen reader, says CIO Chato Hazelbaker.
Millennials who have been exposed to this technology at home often want to interact with their college environment through digital devices. “The internet of things is being driven by student expectations,” says Michael Moss, president of the Society for College and University Planning. “The students show up with a lot of platforms on their personal devices and an expectation of being connected the first time they set foot on campus.”