Why You Should Ignore the Internet of Things Backlash

Why You Should Ignore the Internet of Things Backlash

The mainstream media has suddenly turned against the promised land of IOT-enabled future. Here's why they're wrong.
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Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 8:00am

CAMPAIGN: Internet of Things


Wired magazine just launched the latest tirade about how the Internet of Things is losing luster among consumers. "It’s enough to make you wonder whether it’s time to scrap the whole idea of smart things and get back to basics. After all, having to get out of bed to turn the heat down or switch off the lights is the ultimate First World problem."

A similar critical story appeared in Forbes last week, and now there are "anti" IOT websites popping up, including one called "internet of useless things."

A lot of the criticism has to do with privacy. This part of the argument is sound. We need more transparency in the coding, control and access to how our machines communicate. But the other part of the slam circle goes after the the fickle, trendy, and head scratching silliness of many of the early IOT technologies. You'll often read the example of the "smart" oven that you can turn on while you're driving home from work.

Agreed, this is a dumb idea, and one that even in the first world has little life-enhancing value, but the trendy consumer gadgets and high-tech diapers (that's right, a diaper that senses when it needs changing—see the Huggies TweetPee) are just the inevitable flailings of a new technology that hasn't found its center.

And what is its center? Invisible, boring infrastructure.

The real potential of IOT is in a vast network of energy efficiency. You already know about the so-called Smart Grid, where utilities monitor and adjust energy production based on actual, real-time demand. But this is just the background of a much broader pallette. Soon you will see retail stores that "power down" entire sections until they sense the approach of a customer, vehicles that "sense" upcoming traffic jams and fuel waste, and offer an automatic re-route (Google Maps has a crude version of this already).