Imagining the Internet of Things, Imagining Our Future


American Novelist, Barbara Grizzuti Harrison, once stated, “All acts performed in the world begin in the imagination.” It’s these ideas created in our thoughts that build and structure our life and the lives around us. This idea is present as we enter a world that scientists, designers and futurists alike entitled The Internet of Things. This perception that objects are becoming embedded with sensors and gaining the ability to communicate, which results in information networks’ promise to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks.

During 2008, the number of devices that connected to the internet exceeded the number of people on earth. Studies have shown that by 2022, there will be 14 billion devices connected. As it stands today, we are already at the mercy of the most connected device we own and whose chirp we can’t resist. We find it nearly impossible to ignore the vibration of an incoming email or a text from a friend. We even encourage it, like digital-age adrenaline junkies, we swipe right and double tap our screens while looking for more ways to stay engaged. As the Internet of Things grows, some have stated that we will find difficulty to toggle between the ever emerging digital world that tracks our kid’s backpack or the screen on our refrigerator that flashes the expiration date of our milk to how we once viewed what was our traditional, daily life.

This being stated, there are already traces of futurism in our world today. Precision farming equipment with wireless links to data that is tracked from remote satellites and ground sensors can take into account crop conditions and adjust the way portions of a field is farmed by spreading extra fertilizer on areas that may need more nutrients. User-interaction design has emerged to help shape people’s infinite experiences around one product. Today, there are also billboards in Japan that track eye contact by foot traffic passing by, and assessing how they fit consumer profiles, and instantly changing displays based on those assessments tracked.

Knowing how messages are being perceived by an audience can create additional options which can be controlled more precisely, raising efficiency, and creating a rise to new values. Today, business models that are based on largely static information architectures face challenges for new ways of creating potential values to future clients and therefore may face new revenue streams and acquisitions.

There are many benefits to connecting the world through things and the impact will be great for both consumers and business alike. It will also alter how customers and companies interact and come together. Currently, most companies and customers come together meeting at the point of sale or the end of the sales cycle otherwise known as the end of transaction. Instead of just meeting together at the end of a transaction, connected customers and companies will interact in a continuous cohesive negotiation that will last for as long as the customer keeps using a specific product and or service.

Connected devices will also enrich the relationships that private users have with their products, providing a higher quality of life, security, and comfort. Corporate users of particular services will be impacted greatly by seeing higher cost savings, more efficient gains, and allocation of services.

These impacts may be difficult to understand without everyday real world scenarios to visually alter and flex for understanding. But in reality, there are a multitude of practices and uses that can be made more efficient. Think about how you interact with your dentist. He asks you about brushing habits, you think you are doing it the right amount of time and the proper way, but what if there was a way to instantly gauge whether or not you are and instantly relay the message to him? A toothbrush that could sense where your teeth need extra brushing that then sends the data back to the dentist depicting your brushing technique that could help prevent cavities and tooth decay. It may take a bit of imagination to realize just how much our world can be improved but the demand is there.

The mind is the starting point; the machine that perceives the ideas that alter the world and improve lives. It’s easy to see that the world will soon be ready to capitalize on the notion that connections mean efficiency and begin accessing a terrain that many have only seen in dreams.