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It could be the fresh impetus of a New Year, or it may be more concrete events like the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and Google’s $3.2 billion purchase of Nest, but the next big thing for 2014 is the ‘Internet of Things’.

As usual in the tech community, commentary has run rampant (and far ahead of reality) with the potential for a connected home and almost everything in our lives being manageable from a mobile device. The Internet of Things (IoT), an awkward label only slightly better than ‘Internet of Everything’ or the ‘Object Internet’, has now been cast as a soon-to-be $14.4 trillion business sector with “50 billion connected things in the world [and] trillions of connections among them.”

So why would we wait to get involved in such a massive opportunity?

Step back, take a breath, and let’s review where we are today.

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The Internet of Things in 2014

In terms of connectivity, very few of our devices are truly in sync. In fact, very few are anywhere near ready to be in sync, let alone having a consumer base with either the awareness or the desire to invest heavily in devices that would connect everything in the home and our lives on-the-go. Nest has just two products which are innovative yet uninspiring, a predictive thermostat and a smart smoke detector. Google is clearly investing in talent and (very) long term potential at this point, not the immediate revolution that many have predicted in the opening weeks of the year.

For further proof, look no further than one of the key figures at the center of this current news burst, Nest co-founder Tony Fadell.  Comparing the current state of IoT to the development of the Internet itself, Fadell explains that “there are so many layers of software and hardware to be built, and standards to be built,” he told the Irish Times last year, that it must at least be “a 10-year proposition, easily.”

An optimistic estimate from a figure deep inside the technology puts us at 2024 before any sort of infrastructure to fully facilitate IoT is in place. Compare this to the hype of some corners of the tech media labeling 2014 as ‘the year of IoT’ and there’s a clear reality gap developing between what might happen and what is actually happening in the home of the average consumer.

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The Hope/Hype Cycle of the Tech Media

This isn’t anything new. For some time the technology sites, hungry to break news first and bump up page views, have been in an escalating content arms race. As tech focuses heavily on the future and cutting-edge products, most sites have found it necessary to fuel that future hope with current hype.

We can see this hope/hype cycle in several tech trends over the last six months alone, from wearables to drones. It will only continue to accelerate now that the likes of Yahoo are attempting to make make inroads into technology analysis, as well as the numerous individual journalists from the sector striking out with their own sites on the subject. We need to remember this pressure as we consume the content from these outlets, adding our own reality check to the ‘future now’ perspective that is often peddled.

The Internet of Things, as with many promising technology-driven concepts for the future, is still in its infancy. There’s a long, long way to go yet, with many twists, turns, and unexpected alterations on the way. If we can’t start with a change in the coverage, perhaps we can start by changing the name?

 

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