What is the Internet of things?
Here is a simple example. Have you seen a television that connects to the Internet?
The ones that give you access to web content such as YouTube, online news and web pages. Chances are you have probably seen one, played with one or at least heard of one. It’s nothing new actually for today’s standards. More televisions are enabled with Internet ready technology so it can be more convenient if you need to surf the web. With these smart televisions, the choice is yours if you wish to check or update your Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms that you use. That first example was easy.
But have you seen toys that you can control from a smart phone via the Internet? Or perhaps a toilet bowl where you can control with your smart phone to flush and track its usage? There are many other interesting ideas that are already been tested and its products are out in the market. The ones that I just pointed out are actually real. We have Internet enabled refrigerators that can tell you about its inventory, shopping list and more. New cars with smart dashboard that can connect you with information of road traffic, stock news, Internet radio or even surf the web via their touch screen dashboard. Security cameras that are connected to the Internet allowing you to check on your home or kids while you are away at the office or working overseas. Home locks that you can control with your smart phone via the Internet so you can open it for someone if you are not around.
Home thermostats that are connected to the Internet so you could track your usage, preferences and automatically adjust and optimize your home temperature at different time of the day that suits you. Internet enabled glasses that you wear to see, are now carved out from a science fiction movie. With smart glasses, you can view the world differently with real-time information presented next to objects that you see. These smart glasses also allow you to surf the web, listen to music or play a movie on a screen size as big as you can view through your glasses. The list goes on. The Internet of things are already here.
Alright, let’s look at some hard facts and trends today. Apple is reportedly already working on a super smart television product that will disrupt the smart television space. Google is also reportedly working on their smart glasses that will be out sometime in 2013 or in the following year for the masses. There are other lesser known consumer products like FitBit, Jawbone, Pebble and others that are wearables that can either track your fitness, sleep cycles, communicate with your phone and such. And if you want to view more weird, creative and interesting Internet of things concepts being done, a good place to check out is probably South Korea and Japan. A lot of innovation around Internet of things are being done there including wearable headbands that read your brainwaves so that you can interact with objects in front of you or things that are half way across the world.
The bigger challenge and question that we should be asking is how does the Internet of things impact our lives. A full disruption of the Internet of things will require us to embrace more trust, transparency and giving away more of our control to these devices with their masters and its infrastructures. This technology and the smartness that enable this magic, sit on the Internet cloud where all our private data and information are stored. Here’s the caviar, very often no one really knows where these Internet clouds are in the first place. Very likely, those clouds are probably located half way across the world and handled by folks who you don’t know.
Of course, your data will be protected as much as possible by their operators. But who say that these platforms cannot be compromised? And when it does, will you be ready to be exposed with your precious information potentially stolen and having your private self exposed to the whole world. There are security concerns that will take precedence when it comes to moving things to the cloud and it will in oder to truly be embracing the idea. However, we must take these pros and cons to be well balance, as there are strong benefits to the idea as well.
To be optimistic, I think that these questions will be addressed as we get closer to seeing the Internet of things become more integrated to our lifestyles. When it does, imagine that world you live in will be highly integrated and connected to the Internet. Most of the things you own will be trackable on your smart phone. You will have access to data of your usage, insights for optimizations and yes, deals and promotions. Deals will appear in the app and it will be recommended to you based on your usage data. Well the idea is to help you to spend more while giving you the best deals personalized to you.
The experience for the Internet of things for the individual should be highly engaged, easier and more social when comes to sharing usage data with friends. Also, personalization becomes a huge factor too. If it isn’t enough, the Internet of things will be every step with you when you shop, dine, seeking for entertainment, work and fun. The Internet of things will be no doubt become more popular as we are already experiencing its benefits.
For industries and businesses, the disruption effect will be similar to what we have seen on the mobile space where companies are more focus in building their applications and services on a mobile first strategy. For consumer electronic products and its related verticals for the enterprise, we will most probably be seeing a similar trend where we see the Internet of things as their first strategy when moving into the market. Having a consumer electronics product ready without an option for it to connect with other connected devices or the Internet, would seem to look old and unattractive, comparing to one that has that option ready. It will also be interesting to see the Internet of things to be applied in manufacturing, medical, financial and other industries. Connected devices becomes a strategy similar to mobile first, the ability to be connected will be pivotal for most consumer products and enterprise services.
So what do you think? It will be great to get your feedback.
Note: Thanks for reading. This has been Part 1 of Project Disrupt to identify disruptive ideas shaking up our world. More details on this are available from the previous post.