The ‘Internet of Things’

I spent a good part of my time off this festive period looking for lodgings. Whilst searching, I came across an ad where the landlord had “International Internet” listed as one of the perks of taking the room.

While one might expect life automation to be met with fervent enthusiasm, many consumers worry that Web-enabled technologies may not be reliable decision-making proxies yet; 41 percent fear smart products could take actions that they, as individuals, would not have chosen to make on their own.

Initially I chuckled, but then I remembered from a few years ago how Plusnet was initially branded as, ‘Good honest broadband from Yorkshire’, but it dropped that, and understandably so, for it was restrictive in terms of a marketing/branding message. There was enough ambiguity to lead to the inference that it was only available in Yorkshire. A bit like how Yorkshire puddings are not allowed out of said county, but are smuggled out by the Yorkist fugitive Aunt Bessie. So maybe this landlord was a perceptive marketer? But we will never know, as I decided to lodge with the amiable naturist.

Then yesterday I read about The ‘Internet of Things,’ which sounds like an irreverent turn of phrase used by someone who is not particularly IT savvy, a bit like Jen from the IT Crowd

But the ‘Internet of Things’ is an established term that has been in use for a year or two now, without really taking off, yet 2015 could possibly be its defining year. For those who may not be au fait with the subject, the ‘IoT’ is the Internet enabling of everyday household appliances and gadgets; be it the heating system, a watch or a fridge, via the use of sensors and algorithms. All designed to give the consumer more control and make life easier. Imagine a fridge that automatically updates your online order basket with Tesco, as it knows the milk is about to expire.

We will increasingly see richer streams of data based on user behaviour. Everything from watches to fridges will become internet enabled, meaning marketers will be able to understand user’s behaviour more than ever & deliver targeted advertising at scale.

In truth, it is probably still a bit away from full bloom, as only yesterday Samsung called for openness and collaboration between electronic firms, otherwise the ‘IoT’ will likely fail. Gadgets from Samsung and Apple, for example, have to be capable of talking to each other. Samsung is committed to IoT, with all its hardware being IoT enabled within 5 years.

The smart phone is going to be integral to the control of these ‘Things’, but be prepared to see voice and gesture controlled devices increase in number in both commercial and residential new builds.

There have been some significant moves by large telecoms companies into the IoT arena, for example Telefónica launched the Thinking Things platform in October, so the investment is certainly there to make this big.

As Nick King from Yahoo told December’s edition of The Drum:

"We will increasingly see richer streams of data based on user behaviour. Everything from watches to fridges will become internet enabled, meaning marketers will be able to understand user’s behaviour more than ever & deliver targeted advertising at scale.”

The upside for marketers and their clients, as you can imagine, is potentially huge. To effectively get several commercially minded flies on the consumer wall can produce valuable, tailored data when there seems to be far too much, average data about.

Of course, the spectre of intrusion and privacy lurks just behind the surface. At a time when hackers can now steal fingerprints and potentially access secure info, it is this fear and concern that will potentially be the biggest stumbling block for the rise of IoT.

Although, what’s the worse that can happen? Maybe hackers will be able to take control of your toaster and make it become alive and really annoying, like in Red Dwarf.

Another fear is that the technology won’t be clever enough. Adweek mention, in their recent article, a case study that was carried out by Affinova. It concludes:

"While one might expect life automation to be met with fervent enthusiasm, many consumers worry that Web-enabled technologies may not be reliable decision-making proxies yet; 41 percent fear smart products could take actions that they, as individuals, would not have chosen to make on their own."

As long as the technology and innovation is actually useful to the average consumer, it will sell and become popular. Substandard products could undermine the ‘IoT’. We don’t really need cups that can tell you what’s just been poured into it, for instance.

It’s worth noting how Google Glass, the once hotly anticipated new thing in wearable technology, has not really taken off. You can buy second hand ones on eBay. Undoubtedly useful, perhaps this is more for the armed forces/search and rescue teams rather than your typical person on the street.

But don’t worry too much if you find this world getting all a bit too technologically advanced for your liking, as you can always disappear into other world via an Oculus Rift.

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