Making The Internet of Things Simple

The Internet of Things has been an overtrending term over the last year or so that is used to describe the injection of connectivity and media in to real objects, and represents the intersection of people, systems and the physical world. It is a framework whereby the inanimate gain programmed personas and become hooked into our channels of conversation via the cloud.

Plugging objects into an information network essentially means that they are “expected to become active participants in business, information and social processes where they are enabled to interact and communicate among themselves and with the environment by exchanging data and information ‘sensed’ about the environment, while reacting autonomously to the ‘real/physical world’ events and influencing it by running processes that trigger actions and create services with or without direct human intervention.” Basically, they do stuff without us making them do it.

There has always been a sizable barrier in taking The Internet of Things from concept to reality, in that fairly complex manufacturing processes are involved to equip and activate these things with a connectedness and a set of rules that forces an action in an if x then y type way. That is until I came across the Kickstarter project – Ninja Blocks

Ninja Blocks term themselves as the “building blocks for the Internet of Things” and they are basically Arduino like open source hardware that allow for x then y control without you actually having to write a line of code. But, enable this through a set of inbuilt sensors (temperature and accelerometer) and through expansion ports that can attach anything further via USB, the options at present being current, humidity, motion, distance, sound, light and even video. This simplicity of programming and interface allows for the basic set up of trigger to action scenarios.Like:

  • Talk to Siri and turn on the light
  • Take a picture of your front yard and save it to Dropbox when movement is detected
  • Switch your lava lamp on whenever your friends are playing on Xbox Live
  • Get a notification via tweet or text when a package is left at your door
  • If your baby is crying turn on a lamp in the hallway

They have also developed a proprietary OS called the Ninja Cloud that can easily connect the hardware to a string of web apps that spans from Evernote to YouTube. So with a tiny bit of hardware, some sensors and a vague sense of purpose, near enough anyone can make an object smart and an active participant in the Future Internet. All great and easy.

My one issue with the transition from the Internet of People to that which includes Things is in the quality of output and of action. Automated processes linked to back channels like Twitter are already filling up our streams with meaningless dross – a good example is Foursquare auto-publishing arbitrary check ins – and when the things started adding automated entries and your mates fridge is tweeting that the milk has gone off, we may find ourselves in a biblical flood of idle noise. But, I suppose that forces us to put a greater emphasis on the personal filter and find ways of only letting the meaningful get through. And either way, The Internet of Things means an exciting and integrated future, especially when paired with advancements in AI and machine learning, a few more steps toward sentientence? Small obstacle of the Turing Test to overcome first.

source: Internet of Things Strategic Research Roadmap – http://www.grifs-project.eu/data/File/CERP-IoT%20SRA_IoT_v11.pdf

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