…because we needed another three letter abbreviation
I attended the GigaOm Structure Connect event, in San Francisco where the theme was, Internet of Things. Sadly, the industry in which I work feels the need to give names to just about every aspect of what we do. Although this particular one has been around a while I have only recently heard industry types using it. Its use seems to come with a caveat – when listening to presenters and / or chatting with companies in this space, I’ve never once heard the word, “data”, when referencing the Internet of Things – instead they tend to use “information”.
That realization – and this blog – is just an my observation; neither proclaim to have any deep meaning or illustrate a transition point in the industry.
The Internet of Things, does describes a great deal of information that is captured, used, sometimes discarded, but mostly being stored for current or future use. Some of the examples would be types of sensors that track the movement of pedestrians in a city, vehicular traffic, parking lots, restroom lines in sports stadiums, smart smoke detectors that inform you when an alarm goes off when you are not home or when the battery is about to die, your thermostat, smart lights that can change the hue of the light, and so on.
Some of this information is only good for a short time while others are good for trending purposes, but the fact remains, this information is finding its way to some storage device somewhere for some purpose, perhaps not yet identified. How we use the information from the Internet of Things is largely based on how we determine it’s usefulness. Paul Brody, VP of Mobile Tech at IBM said, during his interview with Caroline McCrory of GigaOm that most of the information in the Internet of Things is useless; as an example he explained that no one wanted to understand his toast consumption, (presently) that information is indeed useless.
The value of the Internet of Things will grow with each compelling use case we develop. Brody’s advice is, basically, not to boil the ocean but rather to create value in the information by finding something to do with it or move to the next one. This is how we will build on the information being collected.
There are several new companies out there doing just that – collecting information. Thingful is one such company that is collecting as much information around the world as possible, presumably in hopes of one day being able to monetize what it has stored. Even Whirlpool is jumping in to the Internet of Things with ‘connected’ washing machines but clearly we all have a long way to go, as we explore the possibilities of this and what specifically the Internet of Things has to offer. Sites, such as IFTTT.com, or If This Then That is allowing us to take advantage of some of it today. For example, if you want to tweet a blog from one of your favorite bloggers (hint, hint), then you can set up a “recipe” at IFTTT.com, IF THIS new blog is posted, THEN tweet THAT to my followers.
Perhaps you have a house that is equipped with Phillips HUE, you can mix up a recipe like this, IF THIS weather is raining, THEN change THAT color of the lights to medium blue. Pretty cool stuff. These are cute little examples for our day to day, but think of what you can do from a bigger perspective. Big cities like San Jose, Chicago, and others are using the Internet of Things to help better the experience of its citizens and visitors. Wouldn’t it be nice to have preemptive information about where to park when going “downtown” rather than driving around in circles looking for that elusive parking slot? As I mentioned earlier, the possibilities are endless, really, and I believe we have only scratched the surface.
I’m constantly encourage by the industry I am so fortunate to work in with all the innovation that continues to help improve our qualities of life. One thing is perfectly clear to me, in order to store this information, make it widely available, and present it when it becomes useful, an object storage solution of some type will be foundational to these products, offerings and services using this information. Traditional systems, by itself, will not serve the needs of these IoT solutions, can’t, just not designed for that kind of purpose.
The Internet of Things (#IoT) was an eye opening event, which I was very glad to have attended. It’s exciting to hear from the Giga Om analysts and especially a start up community that’s defining this space and therefore giving us a reason to care about ‘information’ in a whole new way. Ultimately I believe the themes addressed there (and highlighted in this blog) will force each of us to participate in the reconstructing of an information highway with more exits and off ramps to support its expansion.
-Chapa signing off