16 Things: #12 The Internet of Things

"Something often overlooked when we talk about all the shiny new connected gadgets emerging out of the ‘Internet of Things’ is what happens to all the old things. I’m fascinated by the power of adding multiple sensors to old things and then connecting them to the internet.

Take a microwave. Despite all the bells and whistles that have been added to them over the years, they haven’t really changed much since the 1970s. But when you add all kinds of other sensors — a camera, an electronic scale, a bar-code reader, and so on — that microwave could ‘see’ what you put in the oven, recognize the brand and nutritional content of your food, and even weigh it. By querying a database in the cloud, it would come back with the time and intensity required to cook that item of food perfectly. Over time the oven learns how you like your food done. All we would have to do is add the ingredients and close the door. The internet-connected oven does the rest.

While this scenario is somewhat simplified, the interesting question is what happens when anything with an on/off switch gets connected to the internet."