The Real World Web Or the Internet of Things – which term do you prefer? A report by PSFK Labs and Intel released this year refers to the Internet of Things as the Real World Web and for good reason. If you have never heard of the Internet of Things this report is a great introduction. The web we created has a symbiotic relationship with the real world and it is important to acknowledge the interconnectedness of what we do and how we impact each other when we use it. The word ‘Things’ in the “Internet of Things” suggests a generic randomness without a perception of how it relates to what we want and need. The term ‘Internet’ conjures up thoughts of going online and mouthing technical details without really understanding how we and our socio-economic systems impact the technology and viceversa.
Many use the terms Internet and Web interchangeably because they don’t understand the difference. The report says “We are living inside the internet of things”. If we are all living inside of it we need to understand it.
The report categorises the Real World Web into three distinct areas and gives some compelling and thought provoking examples to illustrate how each is developing.
“The development of a new set of software platforms and tools is building a growing network of individuals, sensors and wearable devices around the open exchange of real-time information streams”. Think of intuitive programming and sharing of data for the collective good.
- Sensors in your baby’s body suit
- A new way of dating? – Your jewellery will let you know about potential suitors in your area.
- Want to know what’s going on at home when you are not there? Try using cameras which alert you when the door opens.
- Let’s not stop at you though, Let your foosball table chat on social media too.
“A new breed of social and attentive machines are being meaningfully integrated into daily life. These devices and systems are capable of understanding a wider range of human needs and behaviors to provide relevant assistance and support at key moments, which opens the possibility of more intimate relationships with the objects in our lives”
- Did you watch the movie Her? A cube lets you know what you want the more you talk to it
- At groups meetings have all the information everyone needs show up as they speak
- Spending too much – Your purse won’t let you open it!
- An unhappy toaster tells you it is not being used and may decide to leave you.
“A new breed of social and attentive machines are being meaningfully integrated into daily life. These devices and systems are capable of understanding a wider range of human needs and behaviors to provide relevant assistance and support at key moments, which opens the possibility of more intimate relationships with the objects in our lives.
- Save energy – Streetlights come on only when you need it
- Plants tell farmers when they need harvesting
- Water ATM coming your way?
You can read the report to find out more.
The spotlight has been increasingly focused on the ethical implications of the technology that we use post Snowden and this is timely. Ignoring the delicate balance of privacy versus access comes at huge cost and so finding ways to move forward ethically is of paramount importance. The personalisation of services and the protection of the personal are both important.
Many of these products and services are developed and brought to market by corporations and research institutes that are concentrated in rich parts of the world. Imagine the type of innovation that could occur if more users in different countries not only had access (See Why ‘Access’ Will Define the Internet of Things) but could create, with an understanding of what was possible and with the tools necessary to act upon those ideas both in their local communities and globally. They could innovate not just offline but online. However, overcoming the problems that arise with heavy handed government surveillance, which will inevitably increase as more of these services are made available the world over is not easy.
The business model premised on data grabbing needs parameters. Should we allow this sticky, tangled web, that we are weaving to trap us, or will we ensure that we design one that does not. We must learn lessons from the web as it evolves to make sure it doesn’t. Talking about the Real World Web is indeed a positive step in helping to explain the reality of the Internet of Things we live in, yet we need to do much more.