Bill Wasik considers the next step in the tech revolution – a world in which our appliances talk to one another and anticipate our next moves:
Think about where you spend most of your waking hours: your office, perhaps, or your living room or car. There are all sorts of adjustments you make over the course of any given day that are reducible to simple if-then relationships. If the sun hits your computer screen, then you lower a shade. If someone walks in the door, then you turn down your music. If there’s too much noise outside, then you close your window. If you have a Word document open but haven’t finished writing a sentence in 10 minutes, then you brew another pot of coffee. Would you want to automate all of these relationships? Not necessarily. But you might find that automating some of them would make your life easier, more streamlined.
Deciding what to call it is a whole other matter:
Some have called it the Internet of Things or the Internet of Everything or the Industrial Internet—despite the fact that most of these devices aren’t actually on the Internet directly but instead communicate through simple wireless protocols. Other observers, paying homage to the stripped-down tech embedded in so many smart devices, are calling it the Sensor Revolution.
But here’s a better way to think about what we’re building: It’s the Programmable World. After all, what’s remarkable about this future isn’t the sensors, nor is it that all our sensors and objects and devices are linked together. It’s the fact that once we get enough of these objects onto our networks, they’re no longer one-off novelties or data sources but instead become a coherent system, a vast ensemble that can be choreographed, a body that can dance.