The Internet of Things:
What is the Internet of Things? (IoT)
If you listen to big business and big technology then the next big thing will be the Internet Of Things. What’s that? The clue’s in the name. It’s about connecting objects to, and via, the internet.
One of these big businesses say there’ll be 50 billion objects online by 2020, though they’ve also said there’ll be a trillion, and of course they have a vested interest in connecting them. But whatever the numbers a lot of objects are going to get connected. It’s a world of surprisingly well-funded EU research and long reports from consultants. It’s a world of Smart Cities, Smart Grids and Smart Everything. It’s full of jargon and acronyms like RFID, NFC and QR codes. It’s a world of sensors embedded in bridges so they can report when they need maintaining. A world of sensors in roads so they can report on the weather or accidents. A world of sensors in the collars of cows so they can report on their sickness or pregnancy.
(Though thinking of cows as things is just one of the troubling aspects of the Internet of Things rhetoric.)
The problem, though, with the Internet Of Things is that it falls apart when it starts to think about people. When big company Internet Of Things thinkers get involved they tend to spawn creepy videos about sleek people in sleek homes living optimised lives full of smart objects. These videos seem to radiate the belief that the purpose of a well-lived life is efficiency. There’s no magic or joy or silliness in it. Just an optimised, efficient existance. Perhaps that’s why the industry persists in inventing the Internet Fridge. It’s top-down design, not based on what people might fancy, but on what technologies companies are already selling.
Fortunately, though, there’s another group of people thinking about the Internet of Things – enthusiasts and inventors who are building their own internet connected things, adding connectivity and intelligence to the world in their own ways.
They’re sometimes called Makers or Hardware Hackers. They’re not the kind of Hackers who break into people’s phones. They’re the kind of Hackers that like taking things apart so they can understand them, repair them, improve them. All sorts of things, not just computers, anything technological. It’s not a new phenomenon, of course, but it’s found some new energy and coherence recently due to things like Make magazine and events like the Maker Faires. And because of the invention of a little device called the Arduino.
The Arduino is a little, cheapish device that allows you to easily connect some electronic thing you’ve made to your computer and to the internet. And it brings all sorts of madcap invention to the Internet Of Things. It does for making connected hardware what blogging did for publishing. Makes it easy and liberates ideas. Hardware Hackers are the kind of people who strap ordinary cameras to weather balloons to photograph space, give them things like the Arduino and they make machines which blow bubbles when they see their own names on twitter. Or they make pairs of lamps for lovers separated by distance – connected lamps, so if you switch one of them off, the other goes off too – a little reminder of what your love in another timezone is up to.
These are the same curious, hybrid, inventive sort of people who built the web and pioneered social media. They’re turning from mucking about with the web to mucking about with the real world because there seems to be a whole new set of interesting things to invent, unoccupied, uncolonised space.
I always think the big difference between the Makers and the corporate Internet Of Things lot is that the IoT people are trying to make the world more efficient and controlled and the Makers are trying to make it more personal and magic. They’re imagining objects that come to life like they do in Harry Potter.
Extracted from Russel Davies Blog
Ok, and what now???
We can see the internet of things in 3 ways:
Skynet is Coming:
All my things will keep talking to me!!! (and they are annoying!)
A brand new market, new jobs, opportunities, and let´s try to avoid Skynet self awareness!!!!
And is our duty, the makers… to start developing the things of the future!
And check our presentation at the OSHWCon 2011 in Madrid (Spanish, soon with subtitles):
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