Jamie Thomson

Thoughts, about stuff

Commenting on “The Internet of Things”

with 4 comments

Steve Clayton yesterday posted a blog post entitled The Internet Of Things where he talked about the possible forthcoming revolution that will happen when everything (e.g. your toaster) is attached to the internet. Some choice quotes from that:

“There are many more scenarios that begin to become possible – when I check in to a hotel, there is still to much systems integration for me to do to hook up my PC, music player and phone to the hotels systems. All of that could be stores in an online profile in the cloud to make my life easier – right now those systems are designed to make the hotel chain’s life easier”

“When I’m out and about, the potential for connecting to sensors is huge – street signs that adapt to me, road signs that are personalized and the potential for upload of data from my car to the cloud is huge – collective traffic movements uploaded to the cloud could help everyone avoid gridlock for example.”

This is an area of technology that fascinates me and I felt compelled to post a comment on Steve’s post passing on some of my own pertinent thoughts; I didn’t want that comment to go unseen because I do think there are some important points to be made and hence I am recounting it below for anyone that happens to stumble in here:

The internet of things has such incredible potential, I honestly don’t think we have yet dreamed up ways that this *could* be useful.

I do have a concern though – technologies like this will only be successful if they enter into the mainstream and in order to do that the public are going to have to accept them. That has happened for some technologies over the last couple of decades (e.g. SMTP, HTML) but not others (e.g. RSS, iCalendar). I do hope we take learnings from that and ensure that these technologies enter the mainstream in ways that joe public can comprehend them and their usefulness.

Incidentally, a fantastic book on this subject is “Pull” by David Siegel. Go and learn more at http://thepowerofpull.com

Do you have any thoughts on The Internet Of Things? I’d love to hear/read them.



Written by Jamiet

February 1, 2011 at 11:39 am

4 Responses

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  1. Hi Jamie – I’ll have to check out the Power of Pull, but I disagree that technologies have to be accepted by the public to succeed. Indeed, I’d say that RSS is very like HTML – it’s there, in the background, and it just works – you don’t care how (and nor should you). Like so many infrastructure technologies you don’t realise how significant they are until they stop working – and if the public has to get their head around tech, then we’ve failed. Look at OpenID – a great mechanism, but too hard for most people. Facebook Connect they can understand – and therefore it will end up being widely adopted (urgh).

    Back to the Internet of Things. We’re already on the way with the sensor devices used for transportation, physical security, pet microtags, etc. and what will really make a difference is the mass adoption of these things without us even realising – until that is, we realise the benefits that can be gained from a highly connected society (together with risks too!).


    Mark Wilson

    February 1, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    • Fair point I guess and, come to think of it, I actually made a similar point recently myself:
      “though they don’t know it my friends and family actually use RSS feeds day-in day-out in the form of smartphone apps that consume RSS feeds and turn them into human-friendly content (news apps are classic examples). This is true of many technologies on the web today; do acronyms like DNS, TCP/IP, HTTP, XHTML, SQL, XQuery mean anything to my mother? Of course not, but she is making use of them whenever she browses the web which she does every single day. Users are abstracted away from the underlying infrastructure to the point that they are not aware of its existence.”
      More thoughts on iCalendar – how apps may help increase adoption

      I should stop writing contradictory blog posts 🙂 Or at least make sure I’m phrasing them correctly!


      February 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

  2. Hi Jamie

    I was talking to a friend yesterday who works for a major terrestrial TV channel and they’re already gearing up for network connected TV’s. Every TV will have it’s own IP address.Tthey’re challenge is to harness the power of that explosion of data to make more money. Imagine being able to read the logfile of everybody tv set?

    More relevant to your post though, is that if the TV’s are IP connected, why can’t I carry my SKY subscription around with me. Any TV I sit on front of and watch, should just be able to pipe the channels I subscribe to, down for me to watch. Likewise with the toaster. If I store my toast preference on line, any toaster I care to use, should look up my preference.

    He’s looking at open source (hadoop) to deal with that massive step change in data that this will bring. I gave him a nudge in the direction of SQL azure!

    Peter Hanlon

    February 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    • Hey Pete,
      Long time no speak – great to hear from you. And thanks for the comment.

      I agree that my content/preferences/whatever should follow me around wherever I go (aside: this is why Microsoft’s Live Framework fascinated me so a couple of years ago). Better than that though, I love your toaster analogy 🙂

      If he needs any advising about Azure send him my way 🙂


      February 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm

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