The Internet of Things. Have you heard of the IoT? Maybe. But have you thought about what living in an all networked world might mean? And just in case you haven’t, there is a big push on by the likes of the big tech companies to get everything connected to the internet. That’s everything as in everything. Why? For them, obviously profit.

The world is reaching its saturation point in most of the comm/computing devices so it only makes sense (and it does) to expand the need by extending the market. So in the not to distant future we’ll be upgrading basic household commodities for the same reasons that we upgrade our mobile phones.

So what prompted this particular post was the absurd byline to an article on the subject this morning that said something to the effect of ‘what if your kitchen scales advised you on nutrition?’ No. Sorry. That was just about the stupidest example of what the evolving IoT really means.

The fact is the IoT is all about interconnected sensors. For example, all non-native computing devices  – like a door or a windowpane – don’t have anything to ‘say’ until they are enabled with some sort of sensor, a camera, or a microphone; a device that is capable of collecting (and then transmitting) data. With the coming of the IoT, everything is going to change. Forget about smartphones. Start thinking about smart chairs.

While the IoT enabled world changes, the sales spin remains the same. That by having all things connected, then we humans will reap the benefits of having less drudge work to do, more leisure time, have less stress and lead healthier and more enriched lives. But the inevitable reality of the IoT – the networked world of everything – is going turn out to be much more different than any of us [now] can really imagine it to be.

Back in the ’80s when I first started my engineering career in the oil and gas business there were, principally speaking, 3 measurable quantities that we in the petro-chem business were interested in, namely: pressure, volume, and temperature. Expressed in the Ideal (universal) Gas Law; PV=nRT where Pressure X Volume = number (quantity in moles) X R (constant/ideal) X Temperature. The industry obtained those 3 measurable quantities through sensing devices.

Fast-forwarding to the present and the IoT, imagine the convergence of new technologies that combine extreme miniaturization, new and improved sensors (capable of measuring much more than P, V, and T) wireless communication, the proliferation of System(s) on a Chip (SoC) everywhere, and all at ridiculously cheap price points.

Take the new and improved refrigerator as an example. It will have a tiny computer in the form of an SoC built into it that will perform input/output (I/O), have limited storage, process data (run the manufacturer’s applications), and communicate with 2 or possibly 3 built in miniaturized radios; all operating on different frequencies. These wireless systems will not just talk to the storage compartments in the refrigerator (to monitor and control the temperature and humidity) but will also talk to all your purchased food and beverage containers.

For example that tub of ice cream will have a miniature radio in some form of NFC or RFID chip. So will that 6-pack of beer. The frig in short will talk to your food which will then relay that info to your Wi/Fi router and then to some app on your mobile phone which will then inform you to stop at the store on the way home from work because there is only one beer left.

Also imagine that your refrigerator is running another application that talks to a website that we’ll call ‘RetailWorld’ which in turn talks to the grocery store where you bought that 6-pack. Keep in mind that the data stored on the RFID/NFC chip on that 6-pack would include things like point of sale and price.

So it wouldn’t be hard to imagine that every last item in your refrigerator is blabbing to RetailWorld. Then RetailWorld knows your food and beverage consumption habits. Like how many beers you drink per week and that you like fatty foods because you buy things like lots of cheap 80/20 hamburger every week.

And maybe RetailWorld talks to a website called HealthWorld which in turn talks to your insurance provider and suddenly your insurance premiums just went up because you have been tagged as a health risk.

Now take that one step further and imagine that most every inanimate object in your life will all at some point be upgraded with the same wireless comm systems and multiple sensors and hence will share that same capability to rat you out. Oh, I’m sorry – to better serve you…

Welcome to one imagined future of the IoT.

 

 

 

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