The Internet of Things truly excites me. Its the part of the future that makes me want to be first in line to get there. I just can’t wait to have my pants internet enabled!
The most positive outcome I await from the trend is what I like to call cognitive offloading. I want my devices to become smarter so I don’t have to do all the thinking for myself. As the data and information size increases day to day we will need to adapt. Evolution will play little part in keeping up with such a fast moving train, so technology will have to take care of most of it for us.
I recently bought a fitbit, and I’ll use it as an example device that offloads me of some cognitive work. Judging by “news”papers peoples activity level is a big topic, stealing probably way too many million man years each year. Why should I spend my time and mental energy trying to keep track of my activity level? Clearly a device that simply tracks it all and tells me that I need to increase my day-to-day activity would be far better suited at the task. And thats in part what a fitbit does. Given a daily goal of steps, kilometers walked and calories burned it will let me know that I’m 2000 steps away from my daily goal each evening.
For years I’ve held the smart fridge as the number one technology that would drastically improve my life. Imagine:
- You somehow tell your fridge your dinner plans for the coming week each sunday evening.
- As you leave work on monday you receive a push notification with the ingredients you need to buy before having dinner.
- And if you are standing in the store and realize you need to bake a cake for your mother, you ask the fridge which ingredients you are lacking for her favourite cake.
- And the fridge could learn, if we drink 3 liters of orange juice each week, my fridge should tell me when I need to buy more juice even though I never added it to a shopping list.
The problem with the current Internet of Things is that its very much in its infancy, and mostly useless. Tweeting from the fridge just adds to my cognitive overloading by presenting me to more decisions.
Tiny. Thats the word that I think is igniting the true Internet of Things future that has started to grow in the last years. Tiny hardware. The smartphone is a prequel, a teaser, to what smart devices will be capable of. Sensors and computers are becoming tiny in all the aspects that matters:
- Power consumption
You can now build a robot using off-the-shelve components for the same price as a decent restaurant meal. And the knowledge you need to do this is also mostly open and freely accessible online, thanks to Massive Open Online Courses and things like GitHub. This shift enables innovation at a global scale in a way that has not been possible before.
The maker scene that is flocking around these technologies now will in 10 to 20 years probably start to push amazing products onto the market. Thats the time it takes to move something from the labs to the markets.