Thursday, May 1, 2014

The end of an era: The Prehistoric Internet of Things

The buzz around the Internet of Things (IoT) has people's imaginations soaring with driver-less vehicles and fridges that keep track of your food. However, for many people, the interaction with the IoT is likely not that far away. It's likely in their pocket.

Source: TheTelegraph.
A less obvious form of the IoT is the smartphone. Once simply an object with one purpose (phone network), little data collected (no sensors or intelligence), and very little UI, the phone in your pocket has become a central data collector (for you and others), is loaded with automated sensors (gyroscopes, GPS, light, audio recognition, etc) and has a UI that accommodates for all of it. In terms of being a 'smart' object that connects the physical and digital world - automating activities and processes - our mobile phone could be thought of as the first mass consumer product in the IoT space.

Even Augmented Reality, an innovation that first took the mass market by storm in 2008, is just a simple form of the IoT. By nature it allows you to unlock digital content or connect to experiences by scanning or tracking to the physical world. It takes the mobile experience a step beyond the rectangle screen - allowing the UX to flow between a mobile/digital interaction and a physical object or location interaction. As more physical objects become networked and equipped with sensors, the words Augmented Reality will disappear, as these physical/digital handoffs become a regular aspect of every day life.

With first generation wearable glasses now available to the masses, networked home heating and monitoring systems falling more into CPG than luxury goods, and robot assisted professions improving care, we are living in the end of a prehistoric period of the Internet of Things. A period that began in 90s when the folks at MIT imagined a world connected by RFID, is now ending as connected devices exceed the human population. The speed of this shift is where the real fun begins - we never know how behaviours will change with new technology until people actually use it.