The theme of LeWeb conference, that just ended and whose acquisition by Reed Midem has just been announced, was “the Internet of Things”.
It’s not a huge surprise that Loïc and Géraldine Le Meur chose this theme. With the development of collaborative funding platforms such as Kickstarter, we have seen the appearance of some fantastic projects in this sector.
What we don’t perhaps appreciate from the start is that this theme encompasses a wide range of concepts! For instance, in The Internet of Things, you will find platforms (Sen.se, SmartThings, Ninja Blocks), gaming and leisure (Sphero, Ubooly and Team Blacksheep), Quantified Self (Withings, Fitbit and Inside Tracker) and home improvement as well (Nest, Lifx, Lockitron, Koubachi and Natatmo).
Through the presentations made by speakers such as Brian Solis of Altimeter Group and Dalton Caldwell of App.net plus the fifteen demonstrations that took place during the conference, it became obvious that all these technologies have two major things in common:
Things create data
According to a study carried out by Cisco, in 2008 the number of things connected to the internet exceeded the number of human beings on Earth and they predict that 50 billion things will be connected between now and 2020!
Every day these connected things (computers, Smartphones, sensors, televisions, etc) generate 2.5 quintillion bytes! Imagine how much this generate 10 years from now with five times more things and each thing sending more data! The growth is simply exponential.
In his speech, Dalton Caldwell explained that one of the challenges in the future will be to make use of all this data. In other words: it’s really easy to create data with The Internet of Things, but what are we going to do with it then?
Caldwell thinks that The Internet of Things will benefit from the incredible progress there has been on the social web, in particular the ability to insulate the signal from the noise.
Smartphones are at the heart of The Internet of Things
What is quite astonishing about the connected things that we have seen is that most of them have the Smartphone as the principal user interface.
Thus our whole lives will become “drivable” from our Smartphones. When I get up in the morning, I turn on the light with Lifx, I adjust the thermostat with Nest, I can watch my weight with Withings or monitor my physical activity with the Fitbit sensor fitted to my belt.
The Smartphone is becoming the universal remote control for the things around us, even if each thing currently has a specific application.
So will The Internet of Things be the third wave of the web?
The presentations I attended during this conference have convinced me of one thing: The Internet of Things is not the future, we’re already living it and this is just the beginning.
However, we might ask ourselves whether this connected world, as it’s currently presented to us, will happen soon. For example: I leave the office, my car tells my house to run me a bath and turn on my favorite radio station…
The future of The Internet of Things is not about what can be technologically achieved and what cannot, it’s about how it will seamlessly integrate itself into the way we do things to become unobtrusive and change our behaviors.
If entrepreneurs manage to take up this challenge, I think that The Internet of Things will be the third wave of the web.