The Internet of Things
When processing power is so cheap, you can afford to put processors in places that you couldn’t before— not just a business workstation or a home PC but also a telephone, an electricity meter, a bedside lamp, or a teddy bear. We can make objects intelligent. We can make them think and speak. Pundits have dubbed this “physical computing”, “ubiquitous computing” or “ubicomp”, or “the Internet of Things”. Whatever you choose to call it, we are really talking about making magical things, enchanted objects.
— Adrian McEwen and Hakim Cassimally. Designing the Internet of Things. 2013.
The Internet of Things is the next wave of technological evolution that promises to connect (practically) everything. Objects, living and non-living; cars and other vehicles; cities; babies; and everything else that our imagination allows. This article will be a creative one, exploring the many (see: endless) creative possibilities, for content, that the Internet of Things can offer.
The Internet of Everything
As will promptly become apparent, everything that becomes connected to the Internet of Things will require content. Take some of McEwen and Cassimally’s examples from earlier: an electricity meter might need an app to read the data remotely; a bedside lamp might need a digital interface to control the temperature, hue, dimming and power; or a teddy bear might be an activator from Augmented Reality content designed for the user.
Take a household oven. Consider this video of the Dacor Discovery iQ:
— DacorAppliances Discovery iQ. Dacor Discovery iQ 48″ and 36″ Dual-Fuel Ranges. 2015.
The menu, the entire digital interface of the oven controls and the iQ Remote App for smartphones, all of this is content that needs to be designed. And the possibilities do not stop there. Imagine a video stream, integrated into an app for smartphones, web browsers and/or even smart TVs. You could sit on your couch and as the credits run, 3 episodes into your Netflix binge, you pull up the video stream from your oven to check on your Sunday Roast. Golden Brown yet? Not quite. One more episode? Totally.
— Mockup prototype, ‘livestream‘ by me.
The New Frontier
The new frontier, waiting to be explored, is about connecting those things that are not traditionally connected, or, giving an IP address to things which are currently ‘unaddressed’. Consider this diagram, below:
— Internet of Things Applications: Enabling Industry 4.0. Navigating Internet of Things through the Hype. 2017.
Everything, within that large bubble on the bottom-left, is unchartered territory, waiting to be conquered. And with each conquering comes the need for content. Creative potential is endless. Have a look at this (incredibly plausible, see: Google Glass, Microsoft Hololens or smart contact lenses) creative imagining of an Internet of Things world
burdened enhanced by Augmented Reality, and, while you’re watching, look at all that content.
— Keiichi Matsuda. HYPER-REALITY. 2016.
Many people are at work on the technical aspects, trying to build the most advanced systems. Few, however, are asking themselves why we are doing so and what consequences it will have on real life.
— Stefania Garassini. Keiichi Matsuda: The use of technology has a big impact on how people perceive and use space, meaning that notions of game design and film making will be increasingly useful to architects. 2016.
While Matsuda’s short film is a dystopian imagining of over-saturation, it is an interesting way to envision how content can be derived from the connectivity of everything that we do. Hopefully, as content-makers, designers, engineers etc., we will navigate that correctly with some sophistication, and sanity of the user, in mind. I’ll let Matsuda have the final word:
Personally I’m very excited about technology; the new opportunities it brings, its power to transform how we live. But I’m also aware that it has a dark side, which is largely unexplored. Most of the time we see the utopian visions of the big tech companies, and don’t really consider what we’re signing up for until it’s too late. As an independent designer, I feel it’s my duty to respond to the issues and questions of our time.
— Keiichi Matsuda qtd. by Helen Sullivan. Hyper-Reality: An Interview with Keiichi Matsuda. 2016.
Dacor Discovery iQ 48″ and 36″ Dual-Fuel Ranges (2015). [Motion Picture].
Garassini, S. (2016, November 10). Keiichi Matsuda: The use of technology has a big impact on how people perceive and use space, meaning that notions of game design and film making will be increasingly useful to architects. Retrieved from domus: http://www.domusweb.it/en/design/2016/11/10/keichii_matsuda_.html
Internet of Things Applications: Enabling Industry 4.0. (2017). Navigating IoT through the hype. Retrieved from IDTechEx: http://www.idtechex.com/internet-of-things-usa/show/en/
Matsuda, K. (Director). (2016). HYPER-REALITY [Motion Picture].
McEwen, A., & Cassimally, H. (2013). Designing the Internet of Things. (A. McEwen, & H. Cassimally, Eds.) West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Sawh, M. (2016, May 04). Life through a smart contact lens: From glucose detectors to AR displays: Google, Samsung and Sony have set their sights on smartening up the eye. Retrieved from WAREABLE: https://www.wareable.com/wearable-tech/best-smart-contact-lens
Sullivan, H. (2016, July 04). Hyper-Reality: An Interview with Keiichi Matsuda. Retrieved from Casimir: The Space Between: http://casimirtv.com/hyper-reality-an-interview-with-keiichi-matsuda/
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*Featured Image Credit:
*Other Image Credit:
‘Turkey Roasting in Oven’. Lafuji Mama. 2014.