Monday, May 16, 2016

Not So Fast

(Image from
When we're introduced to the Internet of Things ("the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data"), it's hard to restrain our imagination: [bold added]
Let’s look at one example. In 2007, a bridge collapsed in Minnesota, killing many people, because of steel plates that were inadequate to handle the bridge’s load. When we rebuild bridges, we can use smart cement: cement equipped with sensors to monitor stresses, cracks, and warpages. This is cement that alerts us to fix problems before they cause a catastrophe. And these technologies aren’t limited to the bridge’s structure.

If there’s ice on the bridge, the same sensors in the concrete will detect it and communicate the information via the wireless internet to your car. Once your car knows there’s a hazard ahead, it will instruct the driver to slow down, and if the driver doesn’t, then the car will slow down for him.
Formerly-inanimate objects communicating and acting independently will likely lead to great benefits--and risks--but something more mundane than the loss of human control is impeding the march of progress: tech companies' desire to keep their technologies and customers to themselves.
The IoT, as it’s called—made up of a gaggle of gadgets such as the Nest home thermostat from Alphabet, Apple ’s Apple Watch, and the humble Fitbit step trackers—doesn’t really constitute an Internet, not in the sense any dictionary would frame the term.

The Internet is a means to connect lots of disparate computer networks so that they can communicate. It brings things together, which is its great power. The IoT, in its present form, is a jumble of electronic devices that don’t really connect anything. They’re just dead ends.
Someday the tenders of separate gardens will break down their walls, but that time isn't now. (Hooray?)

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