Many experts say the rise of embedded and wearable computing will bring the next revolution in digital technology. They say the upsides are enhanced health, convenience, productivity, safety, and vastly more useful information for people and organizations. The downsides: challenges to rheingold howard net smart how to thrive online pdf privacy, over-hyped expectations, and tech complexity that boggles us.
The vast majority of respondents to the 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing agree that the expanding networking of everything and everyone—the growth of the Internet of Things and embedded and wearable devices—will have widespread and beneficial effects by 2025. They say the opportunities and challenges resulting from amplified connectivity will influence nearly everything, nearly everyone, nearly everywhere. We call this a canvassing because it is not a representative, randomized survey. Cloud of Things—As billions of devices, artifacts, and accessories are networked, will the Internet of Things have widespread and beneficial effects on the everyday lives of the public by 2025? The Internet of Things and wearable computing will progress significantly between now and 2025. These experts believe infrastructure and adoption of the Internet of Things will substantially progress in the next decade.
Many believe there will be clear advantages as that happens. Some believe it will happen, but disagree that the benefits will be great or outweigh the problems. A modest minority flatly disagree and many see a mixed picture, where the technology advances that add to life also create problems. Even most of those who worry about the trend towards the Internet of Things do not challenge the notion that more objects, appliances, cars, and other parts of the environment will be connected. The proliferation of sensors and actuators will continue. Everything’ will become nodes on a network.
The quality of real-time information that becomes available will take the guesswork out of much of capacity planning and decision-making. Inventory’ will be reduced, as will the waste associated with the decay that is an intrinsic part of inventory. Our notions of privacy and sharing will continue to evolve as a result, with new tradeoffs needing to be understood and dealt with. People will engage with information using all of their senses: touch and feel, sight, sound, smell, and taste—using them in combination, more often than not. As that happens, our ability to use nerve impulses to engage with information will expand dramatically.
We will see today’s connected devices become smaller and smaller and slowly merge into the part of the body from where the particular sense related to that device operates. Most of our devices will be communicating on our behalf—they will be interacting with the physical and virtual worlds more than interacting with us. For example, the glasses interface will shrink to near-invisibility in conventional glasses. The biggest shift is a strong move away from a single do-everything device to multiple devices with overlapping functions and, above all, an inter-relationship with our other devices. Subcutaneous sensors or chips that provide patients’ real-time vital signs to self-trackers and medical providers.
Sensored roadways, buildings, bridges, dams and other parts of infrastructure that give regular readings on their state of wear and tear and provide alerts when repairs or upgrades are needed. Vastly improved productivity in manufacturing at every stage, as supply chain logistics are coordinated. Paper towel dispensers in restrooms that signal when they need to be refilled. Municipal trash cans that signal when they need to be emptied. Smart appliances working with smart electric grids that run themselves or perform their chores after peak loads subside. Many expect that a major driver of the Internet of Things will be incentives to try to get people to change their behavior—maybe to purchase a good, maybe to act in a more healthy or safe manner, maybe work differently, maybe to use public goods and services in more efficient ways. Every part of our life will be quantifiable, and eternal, and we will answer to the community for our decisions.
Many respondents added to their portrait of the emerging benefits of the Internet of Things with warnings about the problems that would accompany the tech advances. Some were generally less optimistic about how far the Internet of Things would advance and whether the benefits would be as extensive as their peers envision. The Internet of Things has been in the red zone of the hypometer for over a decade now. Yes, there will be many niche applications, but it will not be the next big thing, as many pundits predict. If the Internet of Things had any true validity, you would think you would start to see evidence of its presence on early adopter Internet networks. One critical unknown is the degree to which people will outsource their attention to devices and appliances in the Internet of Things, or focus on devices that display all these data, at the expense of activities taking place in their vicinity.