Internet of Things & Hardware 2.0 – More Thoughts

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Image by Vincent Piotrowski.

Last weekend I wrote up the first of my thoughts on the internet of things and hardware 2.0 movements and how they related to Upverter. This is the second half.

The second part of the meetup that peeked my interest was during the talk by Pachube founder Usman Haque on how we might get very, very close to the internet of things – but never actually make it. He cautioned that building IoT-ish devices like the Nike Fuel Band, but then siloing the data, and locking users into close app ecosystems wasn’t the Internet of Things, but rather just the old hardware model with a services business built on top of it and jammed into the cloud.

I think he’s right.

I think an internet of closed, largely unconnected devices, silos full of data, and no real API or interoperability is only marginally better than today. Its not even really an internet. Its much more akin to the old M2M paradigm (a bad thing). I think unless the incentive system is fixed, or the hardware is opened up, or the data is opened up, or the services are disconnected from the hardware and apps, the IoT won’t ever actually happen.

Open data.

I think the goal should be open data. It could be through APIs, or an “internet” where it all gets stored. It could be through more open hardware that posts to a server of the user’s choice. Or through guerilla firmware and hackers.

If open data exists, apps will be built. Just look at the veritable ecosystem of thousands of twitter apps that got built around that datasource. Imagine sensor data from all over the world, or all over your body, and the plethora of apps that could be built to consume it.

People pay for apps.

And people pay for hardware, but people won’t pay for data. So the question quickly becomes how to open up the data, and use the money from both its collection, and its consumption to pay for all pieces of the ecosystem. If the internet depends on open data, and there is no incentive for a silo to open up their data, and users won’t pay to generate open data – are we simply doomed?

Could you sell hardware that came without consumption apps?

Could you sell both the hardware and the apps separately?

Could you convince a hardware maker to give the hardware away and charge for the app?

Could you convince app makers to pay to use open data?

Could you create a marketplace around data?

Could you find a way to give hardware away for free?

Could anyone get large enough to define a standard open data format? (The IoT version of DoD)

Could someone build an open warehouse for open data and apps? (The IoT version of force.com)

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