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The Internet of This, That, and the Other Thing
As we head into O’Reilly Solid the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to demonstrate boundless reach, with products from the frivolous to the potentially lifesaving popping up left and right. It’s not hard to imagine a future in which nearly everything...every...thing...will be sensing and connected.
It’s fun to speculate about how this future might look; to imagine APIs blended with devices and routers to advance search and rescue technology. To dream about wearables re-defining fashion or engendering ever more entertaining experiences. But behind all these musings rests a simple question: What IoT solutions carry the greatest potential for social good?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to tell a rabid hockey fan that an awesome internet enabled, flashing red light which blazes to life whenever their team scores is frivolous. IoT was coined while trying to prevent lipstick stock-outs after all. I would argue, however, that a medical implant that alerts the wearer of a problem in time to save their life offers demonstrably greater individual and collective social value. I suppose a logical mashup would be to combine the hockey light with the medical implant; when the red light comes on, your team scored a goal, you need medical attention, or perhaps both. The point is, there’s clearly room in Maslow’s hierarchy for all manner of devices.
Take, for example, the Nest learning thermostat. It studies my habits, knows when I’m home, and adjusts accordingly, making me physically comfortable while saving me money. In fact, according to my April Nest energy report, since 2011 all Nest users combined have saved more than 2 BILLION kilowatt hours of energy. Clearly this instantiation of the Internet of Things helps not just me, but also the community and the planet. Likewise, my FitBit carries individual and social value. It helps me stay healthier, which reduces my overall health costs and the likelihood that I will develop an avoidable, chronic illness and become a burden on society or my insurance company. Additionally, data from FitBits all over could feed the next great medical breakthrough.
As I prepare to engage with the other humans at Solid, I’m on the lookout for ideas with global reach, ideas that go to 11 on the volume knob. Are you with me? Don’t be shy about sending discoveries my way. Psst…I like the hockey light too, so even the somewhat frivolous is always welcome.