/// The ‘Internet of Things’ Heralds the Arrival of the Jetsons Age

January 6, 2014  |  Media Week

What smartphones and apps have done to connect people to the Internet wherever they go, emerging new technologies will soon connect seemingly every other object in your life (even the most nonelectronic in nature) to the Web. It’s a weird phrase you’ll hear a lot this year: the Internet of Things. These “Things” aren’t new. They’re mundane devices—lights, garage doors, toasters and other household appliances—all tricked out with sensors and wired into semi-autonomous algorithms. It’s all designed to give consumers more control, make their lives easier, give them more information—in short, to borrow from a famous slogan, to bring ordinary things to life. Or, to go a little darker, it’s like Skynet from the Terminator movies right before it turns on humankind. Take your pick. At last year’s International Consumer Electronics Show, attendees witnessed a coming-out party for the Internet of Things. Many of those things, including watches or sports aids like a golf tee to help you with your swing, did one thing really well. But those devices didn’t talk to each other. This year, because they are starting to share information, they’ll do more than just one cute trick. Three emerging technologies will lend the IOT its intelligence: sensors that can track temperature, movement or speed; systems that integrate the control of devices; and a shared syntax that lets them talk to each other. Think of thermostats that turn down the heat after everyone has left the house; smart calendars that tell you to leave for that important meeting right now because traffic is bad; a refrigerator that updates your online grocery order when your milk has reached its expiration date or your lettuce is wilted; apps that adjust your prescription dosage based on diet and exercise for the week; or the robotic vacuum cleaner that activates after the 20th person has walked through the door. Once the devices can talk to each other through the Internet, the consumer won’t have to push a button to make something happen because the devices will anticipate what you want. Yes, we are headed to a Jetsons kind of future.


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