Internet of a Few Things

We once had a conversation with colleagues at Sony: If Web 2.0 was about connecting people to each other digitally, Web 3.0 would be about the Internet connecting things to each other. 

It is amazing that, it has been almost ten tears since that conversation happened and Web 3.0 is yet to happen. We are talking about the roadblocks of IoT everyday. The lack of a standard, fragmented market structure, the disinterested big players. But nobody seems to talk about the necessity or the "why" of Internet of Things. The reality of connected objects is far more complicated than a fridge telling you that the milk has gone bad.

Internet has a simple foundation but the implications are immense. Links... The simple act of connecting one entity to another - be it a person, a company, or an object - empowers both parties to achieve bigger things compared to running solo. Yet, most Internet of Things (IoT) products out there only connect one product to one person at a time. Remember Ericsson's - slightly creepy - vision video depicting 2015? It showed an orchestration of connectivity that made a user's life easier by entities informing each other of their current states and moreover, making meaningful predictions. Why is this vision so sought after yet so far away? Is what Tony Fadell said true? Is it stupidly naive to dream about the Jetsons' home?

You might blame this gap on the lack of standards but I blame it on the lack of holistic thinking. Engineers have a great way of saying "why not" at challenges. But who is taking care of the "why". Surely it is a progress to be able to steer your lights from your mobile but why? Why is it better than flicking a switch? Just because we can?

The next role of design should be asking the right questions and adding genuine user benefit to the mix. There are many more benefits and a whole uncharted territory beyond what we already call the Internet of Things. Somehow the excitement and the potential reminds me of the buzzword "Ubiquitous Computing" not so long time ago. I hope the end will not be a similar fade to grey. 

What do you think can save the Internet of Things from being Internet of Nothing?