Takeaways from the IoT Media Mash

Photo via justinhendrix/Twitter

Last week, the NYC Media Lab had their IoT Media Mash, a conference held at the Viacom building in Times Square, to discuss the state of the Internet of Things and its societal impact.

The IoT Media Mash was made up of about 16 demos that were on display during the networking time prior to and proceeding the four hours of panels and speakers. The demos were predominantly experiential student projects that meld real world objects, like clothes and furniture that interact with the wearer/user via technology that is embedded into the project.

Over the course of the four panels and four “flash talks,” my takeaways were:

  • The most important thing about the Internet of Things is to make meaningful services. Without meaning, the IoT devices are useless to the user.
  • It is easier than ever now to build IoT devices. Open source hardware like the Arduino democratizes the ability to build technology as the exponential expansion of hardware reduces the cost inversely.
  • IoT devices need to become interoperable. Having a dozen different devices in the home that will not be able to talk to each other is not in the consumer’s best interest and stalls the growth of IoT.
  • IoT makes it easier than ever to create a statistical analysis of the quantified self, but it does not necessarily insure the security of that data. The data creates a profile that could be accessible to anyone who can gain access, whether it be another individual, a corporation, or a government.
  • IoT devices should not interrogate the users. In the case of the Amazon Echo, the systems behind the scenes should be intelligent and attempt to figure out what the user means and attempt to fulfill that request rather than ask the user an endless series of questions to find out what they want.
  • As Aaron Harmon of Audible wrote on a slide, “Be Magical. Not Clippy.” A reference to the old Microsoft Office assistant that is remembered more for being annoying than helpful, as opposed to Alexa, which appears to fulfill requests in a way that seems almost miraculous.
Photo via @louiegilot/Twitter

The NYC Media Lab continually puts on thought provoking events. The IoT Media Mash brought forth interesting discussions about the Internet of Things and how it should be used to create meaningful experiences for users. The talking points from the conference are definitely things to be mindful of when creating new devices for the IoT and how users will make use of them in the future.

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