Why the 'Internet of Things' may never happen
It's also a lousy name for a great idea that is doomed from the start. Here's why.
Computerworld - Research firm Gartner says the "Internet of Things" will have 26 billion connected devices by 2020.
Maybe. But connected to what? And how? Here's what you need to know about the "Internet of Things" phenomenon.
There will be no 'Internet of Things'
The label "Internet of Things" is used to describe Internet-connected devices that communicate without human involvement.
For example, as you read this article, you're using the regular Internet. You're a human being who is communicating with another human being (Yours Truly), and this communication is facilitated by many other human beings (editors, web designers, engineers, etc.). Like Soylent Green, the Internet is made out of people -- and computers whose main purpose is to help people use the Internet.
The "Internet of Things" is different mainly in that it's not made out of people.
Let's imagine a scenario 10 years into the future when the "Internet of Things" is supposed to be established. You come home with a hypothetical "smart toaster," which connects to the Internet. You plug it into a kitchen outlet. The toaster boots up, finds the home Wi-Fi network and sends out a query to all the other smart devices registered to you. Your alarm clock, smart toothbrush, TV, smartphones, tablets, PCs, smart glasses, smart smoke detector, home automation base station, smart clothes, smart fridge, smart washer and dryer and smart kitty litter box each in turn introduces itself to the toaster, telling its unique identifiers and what they're capable of doing. The toaster responds in kind. In the future, the toaster can send and receive instructions from other devices.
For example, you have friends over for breakfast and make several slices of toast. There's a lot of heat and a little smoke, and your smart smoke detector suspects a fire. So it sends out a message to the other devices saying, in effect, "is anyone creating heat and smoke?" The toaster can respond the equivalent of: "Yeah, it's me. No fire here and nothing to be alarmed about." So the smoke alarm doesn't sound.
"Things" are connecting to each other and interoperating without human involvement. That's one consumery example of the "Internet of Things." (There will be industrial and other applications on a massive scale.)
The "Internet of Things" is a bad name because "things" don't have their own Internet. They use the regular Internet. There is no separate "Internet of Things."
"Things of the Internet" would be closer. And "things that interact with other things without human involvement" would be even more accurate.
Another reason why the "Internet of Things" is a bad name is that the devices can make these connections without using the Internet. Some can connect peer-to-peer, or over a local network, without going online. The ability to connect to the Internet is not a necessary criterion for inclusion in the "Internet of Things" category.
Oh, and one more (fatal) problem
There's one more problem with the label "Internet of Things" -- it implies Internet-like compatibility and universality of communication standards that may never happen.
The basic standards for the Internet were developed before there were powerful companies with a vested interest in excluding competitors from markets. By the time the big Internet companies were rich enough to throw billions of dollars around to get their way, the standards, such as TCP/IP and others that make the Internet universal, were already well established.
This is not the case for the Internet of Things. The phenomenon is arising in an industrial environment of powerful companies that each want an unlevel playing field in their favor, or that have strong and mutually exclusive ideas about how the industry should work.
Former Apple executive Jean-Louis Gassée calls it the "basket of remotes" problem.
- Research on bendable glass could lead to flexible mobile phones
- Smart highways and driverless cars coming in 2030 -- for real?
- Google phone project could transform smartphones
- Swarm of bat-like flying robots could hunt for survivors or terrorists
- Scalpel. Check. Robot. Check. NASA bots, one day, may operate in space
- Gov't developing smart suits to protect U.S. troops from bio attacks
- California fights drought with big data, cloud computing
- Robots closer to being able to work together as a team
- Why wearable computing is waiting for A.I.
- 3D graphene-like material could lead to super electronics
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Shifting Gears: The Value of Customer-Driven Quality in Manufacturing In today's competitive manufacturing market, the customer must be the center of the quality universe. This paper details how manufacturers can improve customer...
- Aberdeen Group: Marketing Analytics for Manufacturing: Forging Customer Insights There are no recalls for poor marketing. Manufacturers need to get their customer intelligence and messaging right the first time. Learn how.
- Unlocking the Promise of Demand Sensing and Shaping through Big Data Analytics Many organizations have limited insight into big data. These limitations have significant opportunity costs and can have a negative effect on identifying and...
- The Brave New World of Customer-Centric Manufacturing The Unique Opportunity for Manufacturers to Better Understand their Consumers
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Emerging Technologies White Papers | Webcasts
As emerging technologies evolve they often find an initial niche in highly specialized scenarios, or in specific industry verticals, before expanding to wider areas of applicability. Within these initial niches, the early adopters can be anything from digital enthusiasts to fashionistas, or they can be folks simply using the technology because it serves a specific need extremely well. (free registration required) more