The Internet of Things

Posted by Flux on 

5 March 2013

What’s trending now?

Welcome to the world of smart everything…
Where your doors can tell your air-conditioning to switch off when they are opened, and your car can tweet to you for help when someone touches it…

The 4th global revolution, after the agricultural, industrial and information revolutions of the past few centuries, is here.

The physical world itself is becoming an information system its own right.

And the radical idea of widespread Machine to Machine (M2M) or object to object communication without any human intervention is the future.

Welcome to the Internet of Things.

Why it’s important?

The rise of machines has begun!

Augmented reality – where technology enables you to view the real world in an entirely new and interactive light through the ‘eyes’ of digital device by adding layer of sensory input, such as sound, information, graphics or GPS data is added to what you see – is just the beginning.

Technology is now not just connecting humans with interactive objects; it’s also connecting things with other things, through sensors and simple programming, to create interactive, intuitive physical information systems where objects can interact with other objects without any human interference.

We are seeing the beginnings of true artificial intelligence.

What’s the butterfly effect

The data is no longer in the computer… The computer is in the data…

And the opportunities are limitless!

Imagine a world where your buying preferences are sensed by the clothes you try on and the amount of time you spend in each section of a store…  Retailers can offer shoppers unique, tailor made deals – in real time – to increase the chance of purchase… A dress that is too tight, can recommend the shopper a better fit- as she starts to take it off!

Well, it’s already here…

Already, futuristic billboards in Japan are changing their adverts in response to what the people who look at them are wearing.

Companies that rely on static information architectures will face challenges as their competitors adopt new, more dynamic ways of creating value.

And as sensor and software prices are going down – and smart tech companies are making dynamic object to object technology easier and easier for consumers to use – we’re approaching the tipping point , where the Internet of Things will become commonplace.

Ordinary non-techy people are already using open source web software and simple gadgets to programme their fan to go on when their cat gets too hot – and their beer mug to tweet how much they drank at Oktoberfest…

We now have the capability to add intelligence to almost any sort of ordinary object.
More and more things will start talking to each other- and to us via tweets and emails.
The only limit to this revolution is that of your own imagination.

The pioneers and global hotspots

Twine, the highly successful Kickstarter project by Supermechanical, allows you to “listen to your world, talk to the internet” and proves just how accessible the Internet of Things has become.

The tiny 2.5-inch Twine box work via WiFi and contains various sensors, including an accelerometer, temperature gauge, moisture sensor and a magnetic switch and allows ‘non nerdy’ Average Joes to automate anything and everything they like through simple programming rules, as easily as building their iTunes playlist.

It’s the simplest way to get your objects texting, tweeting or emailing and create DIY internet connected systems anywhere you have internet.

Using Twine’s simple web interface and WHE , THEN programming rules you can configure your Twine to do anything from SMS-ing you when you kids open the cupboard where you’ve hidden their Christmas presents, to sending an email to your plumber when your geyser’s bust and it’s getting wet…
Twine is launching in May 2013, and you can pre-order the 1st generation gadget for around USD99 – USD124,95.

For those of you looking for even simpler, cheaper technology, there’s also WeMo – a smart switch that enables you to connect appliances the internet so you can turn them on and off remotely.

When you combine WeMo’s with a free web service for simple programmes, such as If This Then That, you can programme your devices to interact in unexpected ways cheaply and easily– in a very similar way to Twine.

And then, of course, there’s Google’s self-driving car ‘talks’ to the road, the sidewalk and other vehicles to safely transport its passengers without any human involvement.

The self-driving car is a product of the secretive Google X Lab that is supposedly tasked with fast-tracking the arrival of a mainstream Internet of Things.

After all, every time anyone uses the Web, or shares any insights into personal preference with the web, it benefits Google, so it can only be good for Google if all ordinary objects, including clothing, cars and places were connected directly to the internet and constantly communicating with Google’s database.

Which of course opens up an entirely different can of worms…

As things increasingly talk to each other (and to Google) without us knowing about it, the threat of Google becoming the all-seeing, all-knowing Big Brother of science fiction becomes that much more of a reality!

Further reading: Climbing Trillions Mountain: a Field Guide to The Internet of Things

By: Bronwyn Williams

About Bronwyn

Bronwyn is an insatiably curious avid reader and an amateur physiologist who takes a keen and amused interest in observing the human condition.
She is constantly astounded at how predictable the world is once one is aware of the underling historical cycles shaping the trends driving our society forward.

Image credit: Colin Anderson/ Gallo Images/ Getty Images


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