Although I recently joined Council, I am not really an expert on the IoT. I don’t work for IBM or Alcatel, and I am not active in RFID or NFC. Yet I firmly believe that the IoT will change the way people live and work.
As I illustrate in my slides below, the IoT is for me a logical next step in the way people navigate the internet:
- originally we browsed the web and navigated through complex sites and portals looking for exactly that piece of information we needed
- next, search engines like Google, allowed us to find information, bypassing the complex navigation structures of many websites
- with Social Media, we were able to just ask our network were to find relevant information
- with the IoT we use the physical world around us (the things) the navigate the Internet
There are different approaches to the IoT, ranging from more technological top-down (RFID-chips build in in everything we use and hidden scanners all around us) to more grass-root bottom-up implementations (like Google Goggles allowing us to search just by taking a picture from an object, building landmark, logo, text, …).
In both approaches we use the physical world to connect to information, networks, people, databases, services, … on the Internet.
I personally am more an advocate of the bottom-up approach. I refer to Location Based Services as an example. As long as this was in the hands of technology players and operators, LBS didn’t really happen. As soon as Apple and others started building in GPS-chips in mobile phones, allowing everyone to use LBS in their applications, we started the see a real boom in this market (with the current hype around check-in services like Foursquare and Gowalla as a temporally high-light).
The same will probably happen with the IoT. Yes, large companies do already benefit from RFID in manufacturing, transportation, logistics, … to automatically track freight. This is an important market, but it will probably stay B2B. For end-users I believe it will have to happen bottom-up. Smart mobile devices, able to tag or recognize the world around us, connecting this world to all the knowledge and power of the Internet and our social networks. The success of the IoT will not depend on the amount of objects that carry chips or (visual) tags, but by the smart use of mobile technology in the hands of the people, making their lives more convenient.