Inertia of “The Internet of Things”
If we traveled back in time 20 years ago and told ourselves that in 2016 we would have the technology that would order our milk for us when we ran out (and have it delivered to our door) we may have laughed it off. Firstly, I think we would be more freaked out that our future self visited us but thats beside the point. Secondly, we may have been more pre-occupied with whether or not we were achieving a true 56K connection since often times we’d only get 49900 baud rate speeds. At that point in time, it was barley a reality to do online ordering nonetheless think about the realities of automated ordering.
At this juncture in life it was the dawn of Nintendo 64. We had not even realized that our console gaming devices would soon be connected to the internet. Uber-geeks playing Command and Conquer Red Alert realized it but it was not recognized in the main stream of things. It could be argued that LAN (Local Area Network) gaming was one of the most early influential drivers to the IOT (Internet of things).
As we look back at our 1996 selves we can quickly inventory everything that was automated at that time… Sprinkler (irrigation) systems, Closed Circuit TV (Surveillance) systems, Christmas light timers, The Clapper, Automatic headlights and motion sensing yard lights. It was a very basic time in our lives where technologically speaking we lived quite simply.
As we flash-forward 20 years we quickly see how fast technology has taken root in our everyday lives. We went from sending an SMS (text message) on a Nokia 5190 to a friend to Tweeting the the world from our smartphone. We went from buying things from mail order or the occasional online auction to buying household goods on Amazon and having them shipped to our door within a couple days. We went from CBS being the pioneer of modern day fantasy football to having many sites like FanDuel where you can bet on your fantasy team and make money. As it’s easily recognizable, major technological feats have been advanced in the last 2 decades.
We have to stop and wonder… What is driving this massive technological shift? Who or What is so bent on the world becoming automated? We’ve seen a large push on automation in recent years . There are experts out there in the automation industry and they’ve been around for years! Many factories and fulfillment centers are heavily automated. When a plant manager has to answer for a whole factory there is much to be desired with automation. It limits down-time by throwing fault codes across a network to get problem areas noticed quicker. There is some human intervention but for the most part one operator could man more than one machine. Radio communication used to be the primary way to alert those within the factory that a machine was down or producing under quota and now it is driven by the ones and zeros sent throughout a network of sensors and switches.
So does this mean that the IOT is an old concept?… Before we get too bummed out I’ll answer simply; Yes! There never was a credible benefit for IOT to bleed over to the consumer market mainly because of the costs associated with it and the bizarre nature of it operating within someone’s home. Home automation was reserved for the elite millionaires with cash to burn. Over the years there has been tokens that alter room thermostat when one enters a room, custom lighting settings and remote controlled audio zones for playing music outside at the pool. These categories seem quite useful but IOT aims to take it a step further.
If IOT wants to grow then there will need to be a better assessment and conglomeration of standards. As mentioned with Home-automation there are very loose standards when it comes to the consumer market. The market has some products that are interchangeable such as “Z-Wave” but many systems reject a standard because they want you to conform to their system of products and be forced on their operational platform.
Let’s say you want to automate your house and you want home security sensors/alarms, automated lighting, multi-zone sound, cameras and internet-enabled garage door opener then you may be dealing with several different manufacturers and companies. It is to the point where telecommunication companies like COX, Comcast, AT&T, and Verzion all offer some form of Home-Security system connected to the internet. The only problem is that if you decide to dump the service down the line; the equipment isn’t compatible with other systems. This is one sign that the IOT is slow going.
You may be asking yourself … “If there is a big push for IOT to come to fruition in the mainstream then why are consumers being sold hogwash systems incompatible with one another?”
The truth could be that there isn’t a widely adopted standard so each company is adopting it’s own standard. It could also be that standards wont be adopted until consumers feel that they are being taken advantage of. It’s also plausible that having multiple standards builds revenue streams around the industry which gets investors attention and help grow the industry further.
In reality, you can take an old desktop PC and attach it to a battery backup and setup your very own home-security suite or home-automation ran on Z-wave technology for FREE (no monthly charge). It involves footwork to begin with but you essentially run a private web-server from your home that communicates with the internet. You can even automate tasks when there isn’t a Z-wave component out there designed to handle the automation you are looking for. Arguably, companies will tell you that the system they have in place is more secure than anything you could drum up on a DIY project. As consumers we are wiser because we have seen data breeches from some of the biggest names like Home Depot, Target, Sony Playstation and the Like; just because a company is big doesn’t mean it is impermeable to attack.
As you can see we are at the beginning stages of IOT like CBS was at the beginning stages of Fantasy Football.
We have already time-traveled backward but let us take a jaunt into the future. Let’s answer the question of what IOT will mean for the masses…
Before we do some time traveling lets establish that there are 4 main competing entities in the game… Android (Ok Google now), Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa) and Microsoft (Cortana).
These 4 companies already have plans for your living room, bedroom, car, hotel, airplane and sock drawer. There is probably nothing I will share in our time travel thats not already hidden in their vault of things to be released in the future. They are of sorts, in an arms race; they are competing for your approval of their brand.
It is my theory that they are holding off for as long as possible before they deploy more comprehensive IOT products. It could be argued that Amazon leads the pack with adoptability as they have the marketplace ready to replenish household goods but even they heavily rely on Android to power their kindle products.
IOT in the Future…
The year is 2036. You start your day by receiving a rhythmic pulsation about your neck (coming from your bed) that graduates down your spine and back up. It’s at that point that your audible alarm (built-in to the homes audio system) plays a jingle that is comforting to you as you awaken. The moment you open your eyes a sensor is triggered and you get a nice refreshing glass of chilled Ionized water dispensed at your bedside. Your daily supplements appear in a canister next to your water. As you make your way to the bathroom floor lighting guides you to your bathroom where you relieve yourself in lighting which is not too bright to overpower your just awakened state.
You give an audible command to start the shower with 93 degree water and drop your articles of clothing into a self cleaning garment canister. As you finish your shower you step into a heated air chamber where your body is blown dry for sanitary reasons.
You release another audible command and your new clothes expand on a hanger for you to change into. As you make your way into the kitchen you are given your investment statuses and the daily news that interests you. Your favorite toast is now just releasing from the toaster ready for you to apply butter. As you finish your breakfast you place the now empty butter container back into the refrigerator where the weight sensing shelf it sits on ejects it to the waste and orders a replacement to arrive with your daily order at 6 pm shortly after you arrive home from work.
As you leave the kitchen area the room drops to a minimal power state and you proceed to the garage where your travel pod awaits you. The self driving pod is both aerodynamic and driven by a series of automated magnetics with a hydro-jet engine on a manual override setting in the event of emergencies or unforeseen circumstances. As your GPS levitates you on the fastest route to work you review your schedule for the day on a holographic screen within your pod interacting with it by swiping the air and making various customized gestures.
When you arrive at work your Pod parks itself in its spot and maintains an encrypted connection with your home as to alert you of any breach in security. Your watch which is also your key to your pod has a real-time connection with your pod. As you go to report to your desk you are given an overall health report prior to starting work which lists your average heart rate with highs and lows, your calorie intake, mood measurements and assumptions about your emotional state. You have to audibly accept the report prior to clocking into your station as this is part of your company’s voluntary health and wellness program.
As you work on your computer your watch periodically alerts you of various standing exercises to perform to inhibit the chances of poor circulation. All movements have been approved by your human relations department and have proven to expand your productivity. Your employer also authorizes continually playing of music at a moderate level granted it contains instrumentals only as to not offend your co-workers. Your station is conditioned to 72 degrees Fahrenheit and heats and cools appropriately. When you clock out for the day your productivity report is generated and attached to your year-end review that highlights your strongpoints and assets to the company. As you walk away from your desk your Pod is sequestered to meet you at the front entrance.
After you board your Pod you are alerted of a technical anomaly placating your travel home and are offered to be taken to nearby social hangouts to wait for the pathway home to be cleared. Your choices are Sushi-bar, Oxygen-bar, Elixir-bar and iStarbucks (Yes, Apple buys them). You opt for the iStarbucks and place your order en-route.
Your delivery arrives at your home while you are away and the Audio/video system patches to your watch for communicating with the courier. You instruct them to place your cold items in a designated cold-box on the front entry and the regular products are fed through an opening in the door tied to a conveyor belt that disperses the products throughout the house.
As you arrive home your energy levels are read aloud to you and you are given food menu choices for the next day along with sleep regiment recommendations to operate under optimal health. You confirm your choices and walk by floor lighting to your room to retire for the night. Your audible commands play your music from the cloud and you entertain yourself as always.
As you retire to bed there is an automated massage that you’ve selected to relax your body into sleep. Your music fades into your favorite nature-scape sounds and eventually transitions to white-noise to drown out your thoughts. Your movements are tracked through the night to be included in your health report the next day.
As you can see 2036 looks very different from today because Big data, analytics and personal luxuries fuel the future. It could be argued that the reality would be different for everyone but the technology is the same. Once the hardware is in place, services and manufacturing will only grow more prominent. Companies will look to make lasting products to win your business. Your life will be automated to give you more time to take part in the things you want to enjoy. IOT will be about what company you entrust your life and data-crunching to. The more the company knows about you the easier it will be for them to market to you. The 4 companies I talked about already see this pattern and are offering services for you to talk to and interact with. We are on the forefront of IOT. Our desires will drive the market of the future.