What does the internet of things mean for you ?

Much hype in the media about how the things we own (cars,beds,fridges,boilers,mobiles,wearable devices yet too be invented) are going to make our lives better. The revolutionary nature of the change becomes apparent when you examine what the benefits to people might be at market by market level.

Easier – because things automatically happen -such as your car booking its own service.

Safer-because devices – think of a home water detection device- can automatically report a problem. Or a car that spots that the car two in front has suddenly braked

Cheaper – because devices may identify waste or overuse and help you make economies or even reward good behaviour with cheaper prices. Think of a device in your car that monitors your driving speeds and the amount of driving you do and gives you a personal insurance price.

Healthier -devices on our bodies or in our beds can monitor your training regime or spot an remerging problem such as elevated heart beat or blood pressure

Sounds good – the fact that a) You can identify big easy to understand benefits and b) the technology is cheap and getting cheaper suggest this is a revolution. Like most revolutions it will happen slower than you think. The mobile revolution – much trailed over the last decade- is only just upon us. As Niel Amstrong once said ” We expect too much change in a year and too little change in a decade”.

We are getting used to the idea of devices automatically responding to our behaviour from using apps and the Internet more generally. We know that google serves up ads that reflect what we are searching for.Sites use cookies and mostly we don’t disable them  Our behaviour is being monitored we know that. Internet use and app use soften’s us up for “the internet of things”

So what can go wrong? Plenty 

Strip away the devices and ask what does this really mean?  – it means

lots of devices reporting on your behaviour. Are you happy with that ? well yes if it prevents a flood in my home or prevents a heart attack, but no if some big brother insurance company penalises me  for driving at 80 in 70 mile a hour road – many of use do that on a motorway.

lots of data on your behaviour being delivered to organisations that you hope will use it in a way that is in your interests rather than theirs. The benefits above are appealing but not if what you end up believing is that the data is mainly being used to sell you things you don really need.

Then there is infrastructure and technology. The much promised electric car revolution is stalled/ very slow because of a lack of recharging points and batteries that won’t take you long distance.

The internet of things will be plagued with this – software that does not talk to other software for example.

Expect many conferences on the internet of things over the coming decade. Expect the hype to run ahead of the reality. But in a decade expect industrial design to be very different. Chips with everything- and i don’t mean the fried sort.

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