Is not the IoT the most forced connecting of unrelated dots ever to hit the Gartner hype curve? Is it delusional or visionary to see relationships between the growth of inertial MEMS sensors for mobile phones, pervasive remote health monitoring, Smart Homes (ugh, not again), global earth monitoring, and the so many other things under this stratospheric IoT umbrella? Not only are the underlying technologies supporting the pillars of IoT extremely disparate (MEMs, printed/flex electronics, cybernetics, low power wireless, energy harvesting, etc.), the array of unproven, diverse, if not imagery, business models remain unexplained. IoT has been presented as a solution to world poverty and climate change, the future of human intelligence, and the path towards world peace. Maybe we should just call it The Force. I'm not sure whether the emergence of a grand unifying theory called IoT that attempts to span this array of technical, social and business issues reveals or deceives, but I do know it's attracting a lot of attention and probably venture capital as well.
Those are all the right questions, Chris. And you're probably right, too, about how different lives will be led a century from now -- I'm not sure people of, say, 1850, would have much of a clue about what we're about. No doubt all our technology has improved our lives, but it also has denigrated certain parts -- it's wonderful, for example, to consider such complex issues with strangers over the Internet, but is it a replacement for F2F conversation? I certainly don't think so.
I once went hiking by myself in a remote section of the Grand Canyon of myself, maybe 30 years ago. I expected a great experience, but the thing that really stayed with me wasn't the rainbow-colored rocks at sunset or the challenge of the climb, but the utter strangeness of being completely alone and off technology for the first time in my life for three full days -- no phones, computers, and not another single human voice. Just me and the universe, which suddenly seemed very, very large. I realized then that I had never had that experience for more than a few hours, or perhaps a day. After three days, it really gets to you ... in a good way. You reconnect with nature on a level that most of us have forgotten or never really experienced. I recommend it.
So, if the future involves being "always on" and constantly monitored by sensors all around us, I think I would not like that very much. We all need a way to "drop out" in order to remember who we are in the first place.
I'd be interested to know: When was the last time any of you were completely out of touch and away from electronics, and for how long? Would you want to be always monitored throught a global sensor network?
I think "being off the grid" will be important as when we rely on the grid we really give up a part of being human. Perhaps we should creat something along the lines of a ritual fasting, but have it relate to being off the grid.... It's very hard to judge something untile you don't have it.
It's interesting how "being on the grid" was something important for work just a few years ago, but now we can see that computers are used by more people more of the time for purely social interaction - as in my living room with everyone's face glowing blue as we "watch" a movie...
The number of sensors is not as important as the communications, and face it, if we are "really" advanced we will have perhaps thousands or millions of sensors/devices monitoring and maintaining us... we have 100 trillion cells or so, not counting the bacteria. Now that I will be 50 next year I am feeling my mortality more then ever and hope that sensors and such will help me prevent and perhpas predict some medical issus - I believe we will not recognize the lives of our progeny in 100 years for good or for bad as they will be plugged into the net in ways we cannot imagine.
My previous point is that for all that data do be useful we will have to have it analyzed and I don't think that our local HMO will come up with that software or service, but it will be routed to services that will aggregate, coalate and process that data - very personal data. How much of this data will be availiable to different companies and for what will be an interesting to see although with our current model of using information as an adervtising or marketing product it will be interesting to see how this plays out as most of us would "sell our souls" for a better quality, and longer life.
As to the "aims of the human race", perhaps for another post....
DCB: If there are trillion or so sensors, I'm sure you'll be able to tell us "I told you so." In fact, I'm pretty sure there will be no effettive way to stay off the grid. But I still think that day may never come. Remember when everyone just knew that RFID tags would be on every product you buy and every item in a store within the next few years? That was around 2000. Did it happen? Not so much.
You're right Chris. I share you concern about the network because, let's face it, if there were trillions of sensors all connected to networks, they'd simply all be connected in one network. We'd all be linked to each other. Sorry. Sometimes, I just want to be off the grid.
Do you think linking everyone all the time through more than 100 sensors each might be a bit of overkill? Or do you think it would advance the aims of the human race?
First off - I love the tech, and the possibilities - it seems we are finally catching up to all the future hype from the end of the last century with smart phones, the internet, big data and now allowing sensing, monitoring and conrolling at such a personal level.
The only issue I have with these sensors is the network involved and the security of it. As few end users pay for our own "big data" solutions and essentially farm out the processing and results - such as google searching and the advertising schemes as "services" - as those services become even more personal it will allow much more invasive advertising, tracking and perhaps manipulation. We all would like to think we are beyond manipulation, but if commercials and advertising didn't work to nudge people in one directon or channel that nudge into a specific direction it would not be a billion dollar business.
On one hand it would be great to get warnings about a health problem, but to all of a sudden start getting advertisments for doctors and medicines based on my skin patches results would be going too far. I am not necessarily for government regulation, but I believe some kind of management above just pure company profits and stock holder benefit is warranted as this situation is way beyond my or most peoples ability to understand or react to.
There are great inventions going on. I am sure printed sensors on your skin will certainly monitor your health status 24/7 if it doesn't keep you healthy. That's one of the many pros. What's the cons? What if someone wants to track where you are 24/7. There are a whole 9 yards needed to be walked before printed sensors will be widely adopted.
Frank and Tom (Murphy) and Max, lots of questions about the number of sensors sold and out in the world but I can give you this hard data point I picked up at SemiCon last week, Bosch has now sold over 3 billion MEMS sensors, thats one company basically in one application (automotive) so just think about how many more companies and applications are out there??? The big issue of course is connectivity and then who owns the data. I will be blogging on both these barriers to IoT over the next few weeks. Its coming though and the trillion sensors (over 10 years mind you) will happen. Hope I get to do a "told you so" on eetimes.com at some point
Since we are now approaching a billion sensors in the world and IoT is in its infancy, it doesn't seem far-fetched to imagine reaching 1000 billion sensors in another decade. Yes, they will need to be priced in the range of a few pennies to achieve that level of deployment.