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When Sensors Act Like Teenagers

A common cornerstone of both the Internet of Things and Internet of Everything concepts is the idea of a future with billions, if not trillions, of connections to the Internet. As the Internet of Everything connects objects, data, people and processes, the future of connected things will not be traditional computers or smartphones. Rather, it may be your refrigerator, or a traffic light, or even a litter box. Basically, anything that can have a status change that will interest someone has the potential to be connected to the Internet in order to alert you to that change.

The idea of being alerted to important information automatically is appealing. After all, if your refrigerator is having a cooling issue and it can send you a text alert, you can save money by taking corrective action before your milk and other products go bad. However, not all of the data generated by the Internet of Everything will be of high value. In fact, most of it will be of little value at all.

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Why Connections (not Things) Will Change the World

Much has been made of the “Internet of Things” and a growing array of “smart” things that will soon change nearly every aspect of our lives — from Google’s driverless car and iRobot’s Ava 500 video collaboration robot to “smart” pill bottles that will automatically renew a prescription and remind you when to take it.

While we often think that it’s all about the things, it’s not actually the “things” that create the value, it’s the connections among people, process, data, and things — or the Internet of Everything—that creates value.

You can see the power of connections by adding a sensor and an Internet connection to any “dumb” thing. Consider, for example, your front door lock. It has no “intelligence” of its own — it’s simply a mechanical device that allows you to open and close the front door of your house. But if you add a sensor with a connection to the cloud, that “dumb” device can take an image of your face, send it to the cloud for analysis, and determine whether or not to let you into the house, based on facial-recognition technology. The lock itself doesn’t have the intelligence or compute power to make this decision, but the cloud does. It’s the connection that makes this “dumb” thing “intelligent.”

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