The Internet of Things is the long-prophesied phenomenon of everyday devices talking to one another—and us—online, creating new behaviors and efficiencies. It turned out to be vaporware.
The rise of the machines has begun: Steve Sande’s household fan is now self-aware. Sande, a Colorado-based tech writer, had noticed that his cat, Ruby, was suffering on hot summer days. His house doesn’t have air-conditioning, and he wasn’t always around to turn on the fan.
So Sande bought a new gizmo called the WeMo Switch, which connects to the Internet so you can turn on an outlet remotely. It’s also programmable. Using the free web service If This Then That, Sande created a script that monitors information from Yahoo Weather. If the temperature in his neighborhood hits 85 degrees, the fan turns itself on and cools the house. “This entire thing,” he says, “revolves around a 17-year-old cat.”
I love this story, because it illustrates something fascinating: The Internet of Things is finally arriving—and it’s bubbling up from the grassroots.
The Internet of Things is the long-prophesied phenomenon of everyday devices talking to one another—and us—online, creating odd new behaviors and efficiencies. Fridges that order food when you’re almost out of butter! Houses that sense when you’re gone and power down!
Back in the ’90s, big companies built systems to do tricks like this, but they were expensive, hard to use, and vendor-specific. The hype eventually boiled away. The Internet of Things turned out to be vaporware.
Until the past few years, that is, when the landscape shifted from below.