The Internet of Things

One of the most interesting topics I have recently come across is around the Internet of Things (also known as Machine to Machine Internet). Originally this concept was defined by Kevin Ashton in a seminal 2009 article for the RFID Journal, "That 'Internet of Things' Thing", as follows:

“Today computers—and, therefore, the Internet—are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings—by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code. Conventional diagrams of the Internet ... leave out the most numerous and important routers of all - people. The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy—all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. And that's a big deal. We're physical, and so is our environment ... You can't eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank. Ideas and information are important, but things matter much more. Yet today's information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.”

Kevin Ashton, 'That 'Internet of Things' Thing', RFID Journal, July 22, 2009

Although the term is evolving there have been multiple attempts to develop and introduce new technology and products catering to this idea in both the B to B and B to C realms. Some of these were featured in the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this January. And although most of the products there were deemed in their infancy and far from prime time ready the days of the computer driven car or wearable tech ranging from sleep and/or exercise monitors, golf or baseball swing enhancers may not be too far in the future.

One of the consequences of this would be tons of observations and data (e.g., how often you exercise, when you sleep, how long, etc.). So it’s possible, privacy issues aside which is a huge deal but a topic for another post, we will have a lot of information on consumers. How will this change the way we conduct market research and make decision? Maybe there is no short answer but the there are tons of possibilities.

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