Get ready for the next phase of internet evolution.
By now, I’m sure you’re somewhat familiar with the “Internet of Things” (IoT) concept – the idea that everything you can imagine will be connected to the internet.
The rationale is that we’ll be able to control anything from anywhere – such as your home security system, appliances, lighting, and sprinkler systems, to name just a few. It’s designed to make life easier and more convenient for consumers… and in the process, manufacturers will learn more about their customers’ preferences and how their devices are used.
By 2020, Gartner predicts that around 26 billion devices will be connected to the web. Other estimates put the figure closer to a staggering 75 billion.
Clearly, there’s a wide discrepancy here! But we’re getting a major signal that the theory is well on its way to becoming reality – and the world’s biggest tech companies are battling to streamline the process and make it work efficiently…
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that in order for the IoT to work, it will need to be straightforward and streamlined.
After all, people simply won’t be willing to learn how to interact with every device in their house using a different system. Heck, we’ve already got that today, what with different displays, buttons, remote controls, and operations for various devices and appliances.
Given that most devices will be controlled remotely, it’s not worth the hassle to learn a new interface for every device. And people certainly aren’t going to install separate apps on their smartphones for each of them!
Well, the tech world is on the case…
For an Internet of Things, We’ll Need a Universe of Things
To achieve uniformity and streamlining among our devices, a growing number of large tech firms are seeking to create a “universe” of things.
In other words, device-controlling systems where the interface is common and easy to use from a single application.
Another benefit to such a universe is that the devices on it can communicate and work with each other. For example, your dishwasher will be able to “talk” to your hot water heater to see if there’s enough hot water to handle doing the dishes, while still keeping enough for the family’s showers.
The most well-known creator of an IoT universe is Google (GOOGL), which led the trend with its Nest thermostat. The Nest system now claims that over 5,000 applications are in various stages of development.
And Facebook (FB) just jumped in, too…
Facebook Enters the Fray
At Facebook’s recent developer conference, the company announced its entry into the IoT in a big way.
The move wasn’t unexpected, given that it acquired Parse in 2013 – a company that was developing exactly the sort of software required to manage an IoT universe.
But Facebook has now finally made the tools available to developers, so they can get to work on the various “things” to connect to Facebook’s universe.
In fact, one of those developers announced a product that’s almost ready for shipment. Roost is taking preorders for a Wi-Fi, internet-enabled battery. Why would you want such a thing?
Well, while this battery looks like any other nine-volt battery, it’s specifically designed for smoke alarms – and offers some key upgrades…
- It lasts for five years – four years longer than conventional batteries.
- It sends an alert to your smartphone when it’s running low – long before the smoke detector starts making that annoying chirping sound when the battery is low.
- It will also let you know when the smoke detector has been activated… even when you’re not at home.
Now, whether people will pay $30 for that functionality, versus a $2 battery, remains to be seen, of course. Especially since it’s one of those safety measures that you never hope to use.
But the important point at this stage isn’t so much whether any given product succeeds or fails… it’s the fact that Facebook has now joined Google, Samsung (SSNLF), and others in vying to create a critical universe that will enable the Internet of Things to work in a simple, streamlined way.
In turn, expect to see more entrants push their way into the mix, thus increasing competition and hopefully resulting in higher-quality systems and better, cheaper devices for consumers to choose from.
To living and investing in the future,