We are being told we are just around the corner of “the internet of things”, smart fridges and connected homes. Are we really? Well… no, not in the true sense of the internet of things.
We are gaining control: we can run the bath, control our heating, switch light and control music – so we are gaining remote control, but the decision making is still with us. So the two big drivers or enablers to truly give us the internet of things in our homes will be:
- Us devolving decision making to objects and allowing them to make autonomous decisions based on us giving them preferences or them learning ours
- The digital infrastructure to support micro payments
I’ll never want my fridge ordering my food I hear you cry!! Let’s look at it another way. A good example I read recently was about the battery replacement in a smoke alarm. What if the smoke alarm could order the new battery before it ran out, and have it delivered to your door? Or your car ordered brake shoes ready for the next service? Or your house ordered new light bulbs as the ones in the kitchen were coming to the end of their predicted life? All very useful, as long as the companies supplying it were fair to us consumers and we were happy to devolve our decision making to the said items. The flip side is we get connected and get asked hundreds of extra questions!! The other issue is who can pick, pack and post all those smoke alarm batteries or light bulbs, in small volumes (probably commercially unviable) at the moment? But if thousands of bulbs and batteries were needed, it would create a market need and someone would step in.
The second, and far bigger issue, is micro payments; partly so our smoke alarm can pay for the batteries but our connected homes will probably require a micro payment system as many services will be pay-as-you-go or have handling charges of under 1p. So is it just banks getting their act together? NO - much bigger. We need a new infrastructure to support this the same way we need cash machines for cash and payment terminals for credit cards.
So will it happen? YES. When? Not anytime soon. We will see more convergence but a remote control still needs us to act, decide and action.