When I'm looking for new tech ideas one of the first places I look is the US Patent Office files. They are full of great ideas that didn't quite make it.
I will grant you that the self-folding shirt doesn't look like something we need but there are many ideas lying fallow there that, given the plethora of devices and technologies at our disposal today, might just be worth pursuing. Another advantage is that these are demonstrably 'prior art,' making it harder (but not impossible) for the patent trolls to drag you down.
So if the the idea of communicating with more than one 'thing' at a time seems novel and you have a 'new' way of doing it you might be well served to spend some time on the USPTO site looking at expired or abandoned patents.
Barry, I strongly agree with just about everything you said in this post. However, it may be premature to call IoT a technology. As the big corporations battle for eminence, it is even premature to call IoT a methodology. When you strip out all the hype, the IoT is just a name that provides some distinction as to what might be on the ends of the internet connections, i.e. sensors and/or controls connected with embedded computers that communicate to other devices via the internet using well established internet protocols. IoT is just the next logical expansion of the Internet. Until there is a standard as clear as the USB standard that allows plug and play capability, the IoT will just be a confusing mess as everyone jumps on board with their own technology and stamping it IoT.
Up until the high speed internet with fiber optic linkages and IPv6 did the concept of IoT become truly feasible on a large scale. The concept goes back to ARPNET in the 60s. I found this paper (http://www.internetsociety.org/internet/what-internet/history-internet/brief-history-internet) very easy reading, insightful and supports my statement that IoT is not a technology unto itself but rather the next logical expansion of the internet.
With the above statements I found your post, Barry, to be the most insightful description I've read. Others define things as people, clothes, pets... just about every noun you can think of but without computers attached to sensors and controls and software to translate what those things are or what they are doing it is just life.
Facebook and Twitter beware... Pretty soon people won't be messaging what they are wearing, doing or located because the IoT will update their friends automatically without all that information. Selfies will become a thing of the past because IoT connected cameras will transmit videos as you pass in front of them. This may seem sarcastic now (it is intended to) but based on what I've seen people post the scenario is likely. I don't even want to think of how the IoT will be abused once those things occur – The thought makes me shudder. The IoT has the capability of being the movie "1984" on steroids.
What struck me about IoT is the steady advance of technology. Back when, we had Things communicating with each other over specialized networks using proprietary protocols, but a lot of the driver for that was cost.
Now we have embedded devices cheap enough that we can use a 32 bit processor and run a full TCP-IP stack on them, and communicate via standard Internet protocols. We've already seen it elsewhere: a typical smartphone today will have a faster CPU and more RAM then the desktop of a decade ago, and be carried in a pocket. IoT is simply the next step in that progression, with all sorts of Things talking to each other that we will not interact with directly.
Keeping an eye on technology trends and speculating about their impact on my employer of the moment has been part of my job for more than 20 years. As long as the consequences of making a bad call are not too dire, it's something I enjoy as well.
Years back, I had occasion to talk to a chap who was Director of Strategy for his high tech firm. People asked him if he felt pressure, and his answer was "Not a bit!" His first job decades back had been with a small midwest radio station that brought in a whopping $5K/month in ad revenue. If they missed their numbers, somone didn't get a paycheck. In his current position, he said "No one will even know for 5 years whether I made the right guesses, and by the time they do, I'll probably be somewhere else. And it's not my money. Pressure? What pressure?" :-)