Sunday, August 24, 2008

An Internet of Things

The latest tech concept I've heard is being coined as "An Internet of Things". The basic idea is that items in our lives will, in some way, become connected to the Internet. The items will share and store information via the Internet. It's actually a very exciting idea. So, let me give a couple of examples to help explain the idea.

Your TV
An obvious item to be connected to the Internet is your TV. Yahoo is currently working on an idea to bring widgets to your TV. So you'll be able to watch your favorite show while a news feed, weather, clock, and stock ticker are across the bottom. That's a cool idea.

Let's take this to the next level. When you see a commercial you like (those of you who haven't discovered DVR yet), you can click a button to have an email sent to you to print off a coupon or simply serve as a reminder for the commercial you saw.

Oh yeah, and a browser is mandatory.

This could all be achieved though a set-top-box, but eventually these should just be built into the TV, allowing me to do the following at a minimum: Watch and DVR TV. Download movies, TV shows, pictures, music from anywhere. Display widgets, photo feeds from anything with an RSS feed. See who else is watching TV and share items with them. Basically, combine the TV with Xbox Live and AppleTV. I'm waiting.

Your Car
I believe this is already starting to become connected to the Internet, but just imagine the possibilities. For starters, there should be a website you can visit which displays data your car has been sending to a server in the cloud. It provides you with statistics such as: how far you drove, when you drove, average trip length (time and distance), what the weather was at the time, etc. You could learn when you like to drive, under what conditions and so on. Let's take it a step further.

When you fill up with gas, the amount you paid, how much gas you got and what your mileage is should be sent to the server. You could then view stats around gas costs and use. When your miles/gal drop below a certain threshold (you get to set it, not just the manufacturer) you get an email saying it's time for a check up.

Furthermore, other diagnostic information should be sent to the server: Tire pressure, spark plug timing, etc. You could set an alert to send you an email to get your oil changed every 3,000 miles (or whatever interval you set), and you should get a txt message on your phone so you'll get it when you're in the car, when you actually need it.

How cool would it also be to connect your car's GPS to the Internet? Lost your car? Use your phone to locate where your car is. Also, be able to view on a heat map where you travel the most. If you have a smartphone, write a quick review of a store you visited, which will be paired with your location.

So, imagine you take a trip from Michigan to California. You could write a review at each Harley-Davidson dealership you stop at. Friends could subscribe to your trip and follow you. They'll know where you're located, where you're shopping and sleeping. They could leave comments (maybe?) on an automatically generated blog of your trip (to be set as a widget on their TV). Then, if they ever decide to take a similar trip they know to ask you and could potentially view your stats of the trip too. You too could analyze your trip on a myraid of statistics. Beautiful.

Even More
Another great device that makes sense to connect to the Internet is your refridgerator for your shopping list. Here is where RFID tags can come in handy to identify what food your missing. To a limited extent your washing machine and lights could also benefit. What else makes sense to you?

Soon, some of these concepts will start to be a reality, which is pretty cool. Though, this does introduce a new concept/problem to be covered at another time. It's the idea that to enable greater personalization requires greater transparency, or less privacy.

1 comment:

  1. It's incredibly cool what technology has been able to achieve. Recently I experienced a Nintendo Wii and the ability to surf the net, hook up with other gamers. I do think it's only a matter of time before everything is connected on one big web but as with all great inventions, there are positives and negatives. For some, it's all just happening a bit too fast. For others there are privacy issues. Just look at Google Maps street view - cool but a little bit scary. For me, I'm thinking it's going to be too easy to become reliant on this technology. We already have people who can't live without their mobile phones. What happens if (when) it crashes?