The Internet of Things (IoT) emerged over the last few years as a well-known concept that simply describes “the point in time when more ‘things or objects’ connected to the Internet than people”. Current projections peg IoT to consist of a staggering 50 billion devices by the year 2020, bringing an ambient intelligence to our personal and professional lives.
As mentioned in a previous post, 60% of useful sensory data loses value in milliseconds if not captured and actioned effectively. With the correct Wi-Fi infrastructure and IoT implementation, the future development of the Internet of Things will ultimately lead to smart, empowered individuals (the Internet of People).
60% of useful sensory data loses value in milliseconds if not captured and actioned effectively.
Among wearables, nearables, hearables, embeddables, ingestibles and other IoT-enabled devices, we now look to enter into a realm of ‘enchanted objects’ – where everything around us anticipates and enhances our physical and digital footsteps through our daily lives.
The theory of ‘enchanted objects’ describes a future scenario whereby “technology infuses ordinary things with a bit of magic to create a more satisfying interaction and evoke an emotional response”; a magical realm “where our possessions gently anticipate our every need”. For example:
- Your umbrella glows blue when a weather app forecasts rain that day
- The fridge reminds us we’re out of milk
- Your fork vibrates when you’re eating too fast
Those represent just a few, fun examples – however, they also exemplify the power of enchanted objects to capture, analyse and present not simply information, but outcomes to act upon.
The Curse of Consumerism
The opposing school of thought distorts our idyllic ‘digital Hogwarts’; warning us that we reside upon the precipice of ‘rampant consumerism’ and dystopian surveillance. It describes a scenario where we could find ourselves perpetually nudged to purchase and consume, whilst remaining constantly exposed to hackers. Global IoT trends also correlate with this theory, as Gartner reports commercial security cameras, webcams and LEDs will contribute strongly towards market growth, representing 24 percent of the IoT market for smart cities. Does this make us inevitably cursed?
The Digital World: Ours to Architect
Big data has led us to collect vast amounts of information about our surroundings and ourselves – we’re consistently glued to our screens; viewing and making sense of the data that gets collected from our smart devices.
There exists a vast opportunity for us to truly operationalise IoT in the form of enchanted objects. As it currently stands, around 99% of ‘potentially connectable’ elements remain offline. If we can design objects that truly assist our actions intuitively and effortlessly, it could allow us to shorten or forgo the cycle of interpreting sensory data ourselves.
99% of ‘potentially connectable’ elements remain offline.
Though comparatively new, the Internet has rapidly become a ubiquitous and essential element of life. But despite its universality, it still remains a prototype in perpetual beta, and its future doesn’t have to be ‘flat, monopolised’, and impersonal. Rather, the ongoing development of the Internet presents the opportunity for us to influence and construct its future in a way that elevates the technology from its two-dimensional digital existence, and unites it with the material world to expand our physical and mental reach.
Estimates suggest that IoT will have five to 10 times the impact on society as the traditional Internet itself, and represents a greater than nineteen trillion-dollar business opportunity. If organisations can ensure they implement powerful and scalable Wi-Fi infrastructure – both purpose-built for future demand acceleration as well as highly secure and manageable – then that signifies the first leap into a potentially magical gateway, ensuring we head towards a utopian reality whereby we can reserve actual ‘screen-time’ for the most necessary communication and interactions.
Effectively architected enchanted objects that provide us with more “meaningful, fulfilling and connected experiences” could allow us to circumvent having to read and interpret data captured from the network. Screens provide wonderful gateways into information and communication, but they also remove us from our surroundings. Instead, objects should capture, analyse and present us with the outcome we seek – allowing us to truly break away and start to seamlessly interact with the world around us, the place where real magic lies.
This post originally appears on xirrus.com