The internet of things is a strange title that refers to an internet shared by inanimate ‘smart objects’. It might sound like the premise for a Pixar movie, but in fact it’s perfectly real and something that is already becoming a reality and something that we can expect to see more and more of in the future.
The ‘internet of things’ is actually a term that has been used fairly openly to describe a range of concepts and ideas, but is certainly a ‘buzz’ word in the tech industry. Of course all this is only possible due to the new ubiquity of the internet, and due to the low costs now involved in producing microchips small enough to be embedded in every day objects. Thanks to these developments we are getting closer and closer to true ubiquity of the internet and of ‘ambient computing’. Following are some examples and what we can expect in the future.
Nazbagtag Wifi Rabbit
The Nazbagtag Rabbit was a few years back a trend that never quite took off, but that nevertheless caught the attention of the media and the imagination of many more manufacturers. It was also a bold move from a company ready to try and start commercializing this internet of things and getting people used to the idea of a constantly connected world.
The Nazbagtag rabbit was essentially a WiFi enabled rabbit (or an ‘ambient electronic device’) in the shape of a stylized rabbit and intended to feed its owners information about the web in a more natural way. Basically it would sit on your desk or table connected to the web and would read out your e-mails, forecast the weather and play mp3s. The thing could also be programmed to perform a range of other tasks, and could be ‘tattooed’ or made to communicate with other rabbits. More recent releases are heavily integrated with Twitter and Facebook and include webcams. Of course the possibility is also there for advertizing – so how long before we start to see rabbits sitting on our table and shouting out special offers for viagra? The future is bright alright…
Other Smart Objects and Looking to the Future
Of course this is not the whole scope of the ‘smart object’ movement, but rather just one example of how it can be used. The ‘vision’ for the internet of things is much broader and futurists in the technology industry predict a world where plants water themselves in response to weather reports, and where our clothes can change depending on our location through GPS. Objects could also communicate with one another to create toys that seem to interact naturally with each other, or lights that dim when you turn on the television. Of course you could look at home multimedia systems as an example of the ‘internet of things’, or even IP webcams, but the term is usually used to refer to integration at a more basic level that all of us will use and benefit from.
Smart objects use the internet of things to achieve ‘ambient intelligence’ and this can be expressed in a number of ways: as ‘context aware’ objects, ‘personalized’ objects, ‘adaptive’ objects, ‘anticipatory’ objects and more. The idea being that eventually everything in the home will work with sync with everything else. And it will all be ruled by a shouting rabbit…