Internet of what?

Here's something else I've been ranting about for a while now: A lot of about Internet of Things is fundamentally flawed, because it assumes that things have something interesting to say to each other. But I still can't figure out what my toaster would like to tell my oven that would be so important that I would pay for it. The internet works because there are people in it; I'm not sure it becomes at all better if there are things in it too.

Perhaps it's because we geeks like to anthropomorphise our precious things - yes, sometimes it feels like the computer has its own will. So we think that wouldn't it be wonderful if all the stuff we owned could talk to each other. It's as if we had a family. :-P

Of course communication is the alpha and omega of all intelligence, so perhaps it's just us trying to build our replacements. But knowing the difficulties we have finding meaningful things to tell one another, do we really believe that quantity wins over quality by enabling everything to be connected to everything else?

Wouldn't it make sense to figure out first what our things might want to say?


Janne, it could be that you would like to ask your Toaster to pass some "smart" idea to your oven and then you will understand why they need to have comminication. Be more egocentric ;-), 07-Mar-2010

With the internet, people ended up using it in a completely different way that the people who dreamed up TCP/IP could ever have imagined. The hardware is going to be there, it will be dirt cheap (a few cents per unit at most), it will be there in the hundreds of billions. So given all that, developing software is going to be by far the hardest thing. My guess is that the lack of good software stacks is going to hold back the internet of things until someone fixes it. Open source, open standards, and open minded individuals free to do what they wanted is what caused the internet to happen. Crappy proprietary software on top of closed hardware optimized for boring verticals like inventory tracking of vegetable boxes is not the same thing. Two years ago when talking to a couple of SAP guys at the internet of things conference in Zurich, I very much got the impression that that was their 'vision'. Lots of talk about intellectual property, closed source, hardware without software, etc. Very little talk about software and how to build systems that span the globe. Look to Twitter and Google rather than intel: the real time web is easily extended with hardware sinks and sources of messages. The internet of things will start with geeks hooking up their toaster to twitter, cheap and efficient (and that's the hard part).

There's no lack of the right ideas, there's no lack of hardware options, there is no lack of businesses willing to invest in good ideas. I would say it is a matter of time.

--Jilles van Gurp, 08-Mar-2010

But internet is about people. People know what they want to say to each other. Things don't.

That is the key difference.

(Geeks have been wiring HW to the internet for close to 20 years now. And you know what? Nobody cares. If that's the vision for Internet of Things, it will never happen. You need to do better.)

--JanneJalkanen, 08-Mar-2010

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"Main_blogentry_070310_1" last changed on 07-Mar-2010 15:01:58 EET by JanneJalkanen.