"For all of those touted internet enabled devices the main advantage goes to the provider of the services, not to the user."
I have to agree with that remark. The "IoT" could probably be a great thing if it were not for the way the internet is currently being (ab)used by corporations (and governments) to collect personal information and "metadata".
I can distinctly remember the first time I saw the "world wide web". I have to say that I really didn't get it. I was completely unimpressed. After a while, I started to get it, and the internet became pretty useful to me. As it became more useful, I pondered how so many people and businesses could put so much information out there for "free". (It turned out they couldn't) Along came "monetizing" the web. In my opinion, the effort to monetize the web has all but destroyed its uesfulness. It has become more annoying and intrusive than useful.
Back to the IoT. I have to say that I don't get it either. Someone commented that it is not new, just renamed. I agree. The ability to sense things and push them to the web is not new. I can imagine many wonderful uses for the technology, but I can imaging downsides that far outweigh the usefulness. It's eventual purpose will be revenue, and I think it will become more annoying than useful.
All of you have extremely valid points regarding this specific article and the examples I provided. However, its intent was merely to provide food for thought as opposed to advocating specific products or services. The point I was attempting to make, and perhaps not well enough, was that even mundane things might offer new dimensions of utility and opportunity because the enabling technologies and infrastructure are finally here. PNI Sensor Corp attempted to create the same sort of products and experiences for our customers 16 years ago (internet enabled sprinklers, smoke alarms, door locks and thermostats, etc), but simply ran out of the resources necessary to tackle each and every link of the necessary technological building blocks for such a system (900MHz RF links, X-10, web portal, Apache database, actuators, embedded processors, text-based cell phone control interfaces, etc). At least now, someone with a great idea for a product or service can simply focus on whether or not the idea has value and merit versus having to undertake a gargantuan engineering exercise just to get to the same point. It's absolutely true that issues of privacy and security need to be worked through and addressed, but 16 years ago I would have loved to have been wrestling with that kind of problem versus finding a way to get high enough data packet throughput using X-10 to control both the blinds and all the sprinkers and drip systems. I personally prefer wearing hand crafted mechanical watches because I deeply appreciate the engineering and the accomplishments embodied by such a miniature wonder, but it doesn't mean that I don't find my iPhone useful once in a while as well. :)
While subscribing to such an automatic delivery service may be expensive, for the people that choose to use it the convenience is worth the expense. Same is true of the coffee machine itself, and the coffee it provides. Convenience is what they are paying for, not coffee. As to the repair issue, the cost of a having a skilled repair person finding and fixing a problem (along with maintaining an inventory of repair parts) is these days often as great as the cost to manufacture the machine, so if repair is not cost effective why design the machine to be repairable?
Perhaps only the most expensive vendor will be iinvolved, but I would want to have control over the system's settings on when, what, and from whom the supplies are ordered. Designs that lock users into a specific supplier will likely lose market share to those that allow choice. And it may be a violation of antitrust laws to lock someone in in the first place. But if not, there may need to be regulatoins created to ensure consumer choice in these instances.
You're quite right, though, that the information about us and our behaviors is part of the value that vendors can gain from these IoT devices. So, it is essential that information and privacy rights be defined quickly, and enforcement mechanisms put in place, before the IoT becomes too pervasive.
Right now the market is experimenting with the IoT, trying out ideas to see what really works in practice. Some of these ideas seem silly to some of us, but the market will ultimately decide, and may surprise us.
The Internet of Things is not new, only the name is (although I like the name because it reminds me of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency). The marketplace already went through a connected frenzy during the DotCom bubble. I worked for a semiconductor company during the DotCom bubble and the company worked hard to try to wedge their web serving chip into toasters, blenders, coffee machines - you name it. There are a few very good applications for the average consumer, namely healthcare and security, but just because I can add a connection to something doesn't mean I should.
What is new to the IoT is wireless gateways. During the bubble the greatest issue, particularly for vending machine applications, was access to the web. Cell phone service was still fairly expensive and dedicating a line as a gateway was frequently cost prohibitive. In some places it was analog service only with a separate 300 baud modem on the phone.
Rev is certainly correct, but does not carry it far enough. Consider that the internet coffee maker is going to order those very expensive supplies from the most expensive vendor, because that is an expensive service. Presently we have a Keurig machine, and I have had the opportunity to take apart an identical maker that has failed. It appears that this quite expensive coffee maker is designed to be discarded as soon as it fails, as disassembly to reach any of the large number of componentsrequires a complete disassembly. The package appears to be built to be repair-proof.
In addition, the single serving cartridges of coffee wind up costing around 50 cents a cup, cheap by vending machine prices but a whole lot more than using ground coffee of any price range.
For all of those touted internet enabled devices the main advantage goes to the provider of the services, not to the user. The price in both freedom to vary ones routine and in actual money is quite a bit with most of these systems, and the fact is that a whole lot of information about one's personal activities is made available to marketing people, as an additional source of profit.
And, WHO EVER heard of an appliance repair person showing up as soon as they are needed? That is a HUGE stretch.
Right now, my home network passes http://www.grc.com's "True Stealth" analysis. This means that if some creep is looking for a home network to hack into, mine does not respond, indicating its existence. It also means that I have to go to the store to buy coffee and filters. How valuable is an internet enabled coffee machine anyway? If I am not in the house, the coffee machine has no business being on. This goes double for appliances like my stove. If my burners are up more than a quarter of the way, I do not leave the kitchen. If something starts to burn, I am standing right there to observe it and deal with it.
How good is an average home owner at securing their internet connection?
Your vending machine creates similar problems. If I am running an enterprise with a computer network, I will not be plugging in your vending machine. I do not know how well configured your machine is. I do not know whether or not your machine is a nuisance or a security hazard. I do not want to provide it a communication port. I suppose you can do wireless.
Candy and chips vending machines have to be restocked regularly. Coffee machines require restocking and cleaning by a compent worker with people skills and good hygiene. If the IoT does not eliminate this activity, then there is no savings. The worker can report back and tell you what is selling.
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