I’ve been a dedicated reader of tech, gadget, and social trends blogs for well over five years. Every year, a few terms emerge that will be used to describe a fundamental shift in technology. Think “social media”, “big data”, and “cloud”.
Soon, everyone will hear and ultimately wonder, “What the heck is the Internet of Things?”.
The Internet of Things, also referred to as the Internet of Everything, is fast becoming a dominate theme in conversations about technology. For those who demand a more thorough explanation, follow this link to read all about it on Wikipedia. If you prefer less technical explanation, read on.
Simply put, the Internet of Things is used to describe a world where virtually everything is digitized and connected to the web.
Right now, the average person in the U.S. has a computer and a mobile device that connects them to the internet. The overly-mediated individual (like myself) can add tablets and smart TV’s (Apple TV, Google TV, Roku, etc.) to that list. All of these devices create a portal for us interact with a host of websites, platforms, networks and services.
Through these devices we are able to create or consume content anytime, anywhere. We can snap photos and instantly share them with our friends on Facebook, work on shared spreadsheets with our colleagues, and binge watch every episode of Dexter with brutal efficiency. The amount of content we can create or consume is only limited by the time we are able to devote to it.
Now with the Internet of Things, a new layer of interaction and access will emerge (as if we didn’t have enough to think about or do already). It is starting with scales, thermostats, and cars and will continue to invade everything we interact with in our daily lives. There will come a day where it will be hard to find a product that isn’t connected to the web in some capacity.
Distinctive in all of this is that these products will be seamlessly interacting with the web without our direct involvement.
For instance, a year ago, I purchased a scale from Fitbit. Like other high-end scales, it provides me (often to my horror) a digital read out of my weight and body fat percentage. Even if I want to forget what it says, it wirelessly and automatically transmits this information to the web and is stored in my Fitbit account where I can access the data through a web browser or through their mobile app. Of course, this all happens with my permission.
Like my scale, soon I will have the option to connect virtually everything to the web.
As with every major wave of innovation, all of this begs the question, “Why?”.
There will be many who continue to opt for “dumb” products, like some still opt for a “dumb phone”. However, I believe we’ll all be drawn to these products for the same reason we purchase ever smaller and faster computers and ever more powerful handheld devices.
We want access and convenience.
With products like the Nest Thermostat and Lockitron we can remotely monitor and control the temperature and security of our home. The answers to common questions like, “Did I turn the stove top off when I left?” to “Where did I put my keys?” will soon be at our fingertips.
We want to create and consume information effortlessly and efficiently.
Whether it is sharing the sights and sounds from your latest product launch (Google Glass), recording your blood pressure (Scanadu Scout), or tracking your pet’s activity level (Whistle), hoards of information will be captured autonomously and seamlessly on the web. The vast quantities of information that we will soon be able to capture will transform how we manage our health, homes and businesses.
Get ready. The “Internet of Things” is coming to a home or office near you.