SDN Blog

Internet of Things brings oddities and exciting possibilities

Posted on Monday, June 16, 2014 in Broadband Internet

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Oral-B® interactive electric toothbrushAt least three companies have promoted the development of an interactive toothbrush – an electric toothbrush that connects to a mobile device to record a user’s brushing habits and offer tips on oral hygiene.

I’ll be surprised if interactive toothbrushes catch on as anything more than a novelty among super geeks. Most people don’t need Internet reminders to brush their teeth.

Such devices bring attention to the concept of the Internet of Things, however, and that’s a plus. Some really useful and exciting products – as well as some oddities - are being developed.

The Internet of Things – IoT, for short – is a catchy phrase that describes Internet-centered automation. It includes everything from Web-connected TVs and cars to wearable technology and homes with appliances that can be controlled remotely.

The integration of more technology eventually could help cities more effectively distribute resources, such as police officers. Traffic flow and safety on highway systems could be greatly improved. Factory production and distribution could be efficiently controlled. The possibilities for community goods are vast.

Personal devices, such as contact lenses with sensors to help people with diabetes monitor their glucose levels, also are being developed.

Google Smart Contact Lens Project

Granted, some products that are coming out seem frivolous.

Among the futuristic products promoted by London-based Berg is a programmable, cube-shaped mini-printer about size of a coffee cup. The device, called the Little Printer, automatically prints out information requested in advance, such as columns by a writer or a daily crossword puzzle. The resulting printout is like a mini-newspaper.

The display side of the Little Printer has a face, which smiles or frowns, depending on factors such as how often device is used. The hair on the display head even grows until it’s given a virtual haircut.

Berg also is working on a way to project images in densely built cities such as New York. A pedestrian would see an elevated view, looking down and forward, from wherever he or she happened to be standing. That’s pretty cool.

Matt Webb, CEO of Berg, makes a good point when he contends that connecting products to the Web is the modern-day equivalent of electrifying the countryside.

I don’t know where IoT starts or stops, but the possibilities sure seem endless.

It’s ‘going to be huge’

Business Insider reports that "the IoT is going to be huge" and statistical projections support the claim. The business and technology news website says the development of new products is one of the major forces driving the IoT trend. However, the world currently appears to be in the early stages of the movement. 

I suspect that reduced computing and storage costs are the real driving factor. Without the potential for profit, companies probably would still be cranking out oversized PCs and servers.

Factors such as government regulation and the affordability of gadgets will influence the pace of IoT growth, too, of course.

Regardless of the pace of growth, companies such as SDN Communications will be important contributors to the movement.

Sioux Falls-based SDN is a premier regional provider of broadband connectivity for businesses and institutions, and connecting devices to the Internet requires bandwidth. Companies such as SDN will have to keep expanding and improving their networks.

Demand for services, such as those related to digital security provided by SDN, is also likely to increase. As the footprint of databases grows larger, so will threats to electronic assets and the physical structures in which electronic information resides. Cyber criminals will have more targets than ever.

Watching the IoT expand from tiny appliances to huge entities will be gradual. It also should be fascinating to watch.