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The Internet of Things

“The idea is as simple as its application is difficult. If all cans, books, shoes or parts of cars are equipped with minuscule identifying devices, daily life on our planet will undergo a transformation. Things like running out of stock or wasted products will no longer exist as we will know exactly what is being consumed on the other side of the globe. Theft will be a thing of the past as we will know where a product is at all times. The same applies to parcels lost in the post.”  Wikipedia

The above paragraph refers to technology that is slowly creeping our way; the Internet of Things (yes, it’s capitalized.)  It’s not actually here yet.

Or is it?

How many of you immediately thought of RFID tags or QR codes when you read that paragraph?  If you did, you’re not wrong.  The Internet of Things connects everyday objects to the net and to each other.  RFID and QR codes may be baby steps, but they are still significant inroads to the Internet of Things.  Right now the Internet is essentially a bunch of documents.  But it can, and will be, more.

Some further explanation from WebOfThings.com:

“It is an alternative vision to what the Web of tomorrow will look like. It’s about taking the Web as we know it and extending it so that anyone can plug devices to it. It’s basically about giving eyes, ears, and all kinds of sensory appendixes located worldwide to it. It’s about seamlessly connecting the physical world with the virtual.”

Some real examples of the Internet of Things:

  • The Internet of Things began at least as far back as 1990, with the creation of a networked Coke machine by some Xerox employees (they could tell when it was empty and when it had been refilled).
  • In 1998 a protocol was created by the Internet Society for controlling coffee pots
  • Nike+ products (Nike shoes integrated with the Apple iPod)
  • I can scan the barcode on any book with my Droid phone and it will automatically do a Google search for that ISBN and link me directly to online booksellers’ listings. (Yep, iPhone can do this, too.)
  • In Boston, you can track your bus via your iPhone.

Companies are already working together to standardize how objects will talk to the Internet.

What does this mean to me, Laura?

  • Don’t be surprised to see people with smartphones scanning barcodes on library books.
  • In the not-to-far future, people might not think you’re strange for saying “Wait, let me check the fridge”…while you’re in the grocery store.
  • The Internet of Things will likely require some shifts in how we think.  Check out the video, below:

Trillions from MAYAnMAYA on Vimeo.