The Internet of Things

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is to invest up to £10 million* in a single collaborative R&D project to demonstrate the capability of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Next week, they’ll be briefing the city of Birmingham, and we’re going to be there to see what this new movement is all about.

Innovate UK states;

The aim of this demonstrator is to show how the large-scale deployment of IoT – where everyday objects are connected to a network in order to share their data – can benefit citizens by offering environmental improvements, economic opportunities, and more efficient and effective delivery of services such as transport, healthcare and energy.

Moving out of the mobile and into the world around us

The simple objects in our lives have been taken for granted. Now that we have mobile devices that claim to be intuitive, we regard them much highly than the everyday items that have become such an intrinsic part of our lives.

We are living in an artificial landscape that has been carved into the skyline of our black mirrors – mobile devices. But these products don’t really integrate with our daily lives on a natural, physical level. We still have to go into our pockets, tap to unlock, slide to find the app and wait for it all to load.

IoT is ‘The Internet of Things’, giving items a new lease of life through the use of intuitive technology.

Enchanted Objects

Examples of such magical objects were given by David Rose, a researcher at MIT’s media labs and CEO of Ditto Labs. Inspired by the make believe worlds of Harry Potter, The Brothers Grim and his Grandfathers tool workshop, Rose creates technology for the home and for life; objects that have a brain.

So far his items include;

  • Talking Medicine; a bottle lid for pill’s that bleep, light up and text you so you don’t miss a pill. It can also give you or a loved one a weekly message to give you an update on how you’re doing.
  • The all knowing umbrella; an umbrella that taps into the weather report and informs you when it’s about to rain.
  • A wallet that gets harder to open when you’re close to reaching your budget for the month.
  • A pen that records and captures every gesture of your conversation so you don’t miss a thing.
  • The cupboard that links you to your Nan. You open the door and the cupboard calls your loved ones immediately via Skype. You find a floating head of your Grandparents in the cupboard.
  • A clever speaker that sings the tune of a family member when they are on the way home.
  • A life-logging camera called Narrative that documents and keeps a time-lapse of your day. Rose states that this will be a ‘black box for marketers’, as it documents

These items have each been designed to compute actions that compliment the familiar and appeal to our desires and needs.

Our desire to know all, our need to be connected to each other, safekeeping, immortality, teleportation (Rose plans on integrating a marauders map into bus stops showing the public exactly where all of our transport is) and expression are what fairytales and folklore have teased us with, but IoT will make the enchanted a reality.

IoT turns ordinary things into the extraordinary and is the force that can give us the magic only fiction has been able to obtain so far. This movement gives dull, inert objects sophistication and life that will hopefully be truly intrinsic with ours.

One thing we will have to think about is how this will impact web and app development.