This slightly glib soundbite has been bouncing around my head for a number of months now. I’m reminded of it again with news yesterday that Apple are about to announce a new set of standards for Internet of Things things in the home.
From the cursory glance of the coverage, it seems that journalists seem to be picking up on the “things on the Internet” potential, with the iPhone becoming the remote control for a bunch of things in the home. Great as far as it goes, especially for the congenitally couch-bound.
It’s not surprising that this (along with the mythical Internet-connected fridge) becomes the focus for IoT as it’s an easy narrative. It’s a bit like today, but slightly different. Horseless carriages…
But the potential for IoT will really come when we get machines talking to other things. That’s harder to get one’s head around, because it’s not like today. And it also requires in many cases for us to give up control of things over which we currently have power, and that’s plain scary.
Take car Sat Navs. In their first iterations in the last decade they were very clever, yet also very dumb, map readers. They replaced someone reading a map and plotting a course. Very useful.
But if we look where Sat Navs are today, as they start to talk to each other in services like Waze, routing becomes increasingly intelligent, not only understanding patterns of traffic over time, but also in real time.
The quid pro quo of the intelligent networked Sat Nav is a complete change in how we think about route planning and driving. You need to give up control of your short-term destiny to reach your destination.
The Internet of Things will require us to give up control of things at the micro level to deliver great benefit. Remote control apps are barely scraping the surface – it’s the interconnected “no control” apps that will be the interesting ones.