The internet of things: coming ever closer

Last week I went to a talk at NESTA where Usman Haque and Matt Jones mentioned some interesting quotes in their presentations that I wanted to note down:

Personal data is the new oil of the Internet and the new currency of the digital world : Meglena Kuneva, European Commissioner for Consumer Protection (from this 2009 speech)

Lying about the future produces history: Umberto Eco

When you cut into the present, the future leaks out: William S. Burroughs

Be as smart as a puppy: IDEO via Matt Jones

Image from Usman Haque's recent presentation on IoT

Amidst all the talk of open data, Haque made an interesting point when he said that we’re not quite in the ‘internet of things’ yet, where machines are interconnected to each other. We’re still in the machine-to-machine phase (one-to-one) where data is in silos. Nike controls the Nike+ data, for example (see his presentation from earlier this year).  He mentioned the Natural Fuse project as an example of people controlling machines: the survival of plants in the project is dependent on the community.

Matt Jones showed us this funny video about Siri and mentioned the difference between smart devices and smart pliable devices.

As Usman Haque said, there is an increasingly blurred line between ‘digital’ and ‘physical’. Most digital things still need some physical input from humans anyway, so they aren’t truly digital in that sense of the word.

I was reminded of Matt Webb’s talk at the Royal Institution a while ago when someone at the NESTA talk (I forget who) mentioned that the real internet of things will be when we are able to buy easily operable devices at Argos that pull in useful digital data.

Today, the BERG folk released Little Printer and the BERG Cloud. As Russell Davies said, it took them 5 years to get from an initial prototype to this, so we shouldn’t underestimate the amount of effort involved. But the fact that there are projects like Little Printer and Twine happening at shorter intervals these days is a good sign. Maybe we will see them in Argos soon.

In the meantime, I’ve backed Twine and signed up for updates on the Little Printer. Take a look at the two here:

Hello Little Printer, available 2012 from BERG on Vimeo.

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