The Intelligent Hardware Explosion

The Intelligent Hardware Explosion

You know the “Next Big Thing” is no longer waiting in the wings when you hear it dissected on talk radio. That’s now the case with the Industrial Internet — or the Internet of Things, or the collision of software and hardware, or the convergence of the virtual and real worlds, or whatever you want to call it. It has emerged from academe and the high tech redoubts of Silicon Valley, and invaded the mainstream media.

Of course, it’s been “here” for a while, in the form of intelligent devices, such as the Nest Thermostat, and initiatives like the Open Auto Alliance, an effort involving Audi, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Google, and Nvidia to develop an open-source, Android-based software platform for cars.

But we are now tap-dancing one of those darn tipping points again. As software-enhanced objects, cheap sensors, and wireless technology combine to connect everything and everybody with every other thing and person, a general awareness is dawning. People — all people, not just the technologically proficient — understand their lives are about to change big time. This is creating some hand-wringing anxiety as well as giddy anticipation, and rightly so: the parameters and consequences of the Internet of Things remain vague.

One guy who has a better handle than most on its possible impacts is data journalist Jon Bruner. With Joi Ito, the director of MIT’s Media Lab, Bruner is directing Solid, O’Reilly’s new conference on the merging of the real and the virtual. He recently mused on the true import of the Internet of Things, sharing a few apercus:

Big data invades the real world

“Think of the progress companies have made in exploiting big data to measure and optimize everything connected to software,” said Bruner. “It utterly transformed finance, scientific research and advertising. At Solid, we’re going to be talking about taking big data, and the intelligence it implies, into the physical world via the cloud. We’re going to see prosaic objects transformed into highly intelligent devices that will network and exert impacts far beyond their original intent. Consider what the Nest Thermostat means on a planetary scale. Heating and cooling constitute a huge chunk of global energy use. Something that minimizes energy waste will positively affect both civilization and the biosphere.”

One guy who has a better handle than most on its possible impacts is data journalist Jon Bruner. With Joi Ito, the director of MIT’s Media Lab, Bruner is directing Solid, O’Reilly’s new conference on the merging of the real and the virtual. He recently mused on the true import of the Internet of Things, sharing a few apercus:

Big data invades the real world

“Think of the progress companies have made in exploiting big data to measure and optimize everything connected to software,” said Bruner. “It utterly transformed finance, scientific research and advertising. At Solid, we’re going to be talking about taking big data, and the intelligence it implies, into the physical world via the cloud. We’re going to see prosaic objects transformed into highly intelligent devices that will network and exert impacts far beyond their original intent. Consider what the Nest Thermostat means on a planetary scale. Heating and cooling constitute a huge chunk of global energy use. Something that minimizes energy waste will positively affect both civilization and the biosphere.”