Fancy living in a world where your products talk not only to you, but also to each other? You'd better get used to it because it's happening right now, says Andy Hobsbawm, CMO of EVRYTHNG
Tuesday 10 August, 2010 was an unexceptional news day apart from one fact: it was the day when more machines than people signed up to new accounts with the two largest mobile network operators in the US: Verizon and AT&T. This refers to what's called ‘machine-to-machine' applications, where internet-connected objects talk to each other to do things autonomously on our behalf.
This is part of the much-heralded ‘Internet of Things', a term first coined by British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton a decade and a half ago. It describes a world where billions of physical objects, from supply chain components and personal possessions to trains, buildings and paintings all become connected and part of the web.
Ericsson, the world's leading manufacturer of equipment for wireless networks, predicts that by the end of this decade there will be 50bn such internet-connected devices - about five times as many connected machines as people.
People + Things
But something more interesting than just machines just talking directly to each other has started to happen, and that's the direct connection between real-world things and people. For instance, ‘Toyota Friend', which launched last year, is a plug-in hybrid car that communicates with its owner by email or text when the engine needs to be recharged or the tyres changed
Connecting our products to the internet like this will fundamentally change our understanding of what a physical product is and does, by turning it into a channel for personalised interactive experiences and real-time communications. I believe that digitally augmented products will come to dominate the marketplace, forever changing the relationship between manufacturer and consumer.
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