"What is the Internet of Things, actually?"
projekt202 Chief Experience Officer and Co-Founder Peter Eckert invited a Dallas audience to consider the full scope -- including the responsibilities and ramifications -- of the Internet of Things (IoT) in an engaging discussion hosted by Tech in Motion.
The "Front End Design in an IoT World" event focused on the rapidly growing IoT field. Joined by fellow panelists Daniel Hall with Vinli, Matthias Lange with Texas Instruments, Carlos Aragon of GENBAND and Chris Bradford of Newline Interactive, Peter discussed technology that is bringing interconnected devices into the mainstream and the ways companies should leverage these developments to deliver better customer experiences and ROI.
Answering the basic IoT question he'd posed to his audience, Peter said, "Over the last 20 years, we've spent an enormous amount of time to develop the piping, which is the internet. This connects the whole world to every aspect of the globe. The piping exists and now we're adding this myriad of data nodes to it."
The term "Internet of Things," though, is too limiting, said the projekt202 CXO. Tech advances are quickly expanding beyond the realm of the internet to affect all digital experiences that consumers have every day. The "Experience of Things" better expresses the range of this new era of connectivity, he said, because it includes the relationships that users have with technology.
As machines become more connected, however, there's a disconnect among companies and product manufacturers.
"The bigger question will be, how do we make the device that I'm building talk to other devices or to the internet? There is no protocol, no standard of how we do this," Peter said. "Holding all of this up, nobody has really an answer yet. Everyone is basically trying on their own. Eventually, it will become merged down and we'll find the best protocols to connect networks."
He explained that the key to finding a common language is one that many businesses overlook in their rush to market: the customer.
"If we focus on the problem and resolving it, that means we're focusing on the new user of the technology. That helps you make a decision around what language you need to use to build it. You actually have a better understanding of what you want to do. We have personally entered the human space and seen where the intersection of technology is," Peter said.
"With a lot of engineering in business, they're just force-feeding that solution onto the user. As long as we ground this to solve a real problem, and connect these devices and not take them as a single data point, then we can build something really powerful."
Industrialization and global connectivity form a complex equation, one much more involved than Component A + Component B = Product C.
"Imagine you have to build things for a power plant. How do you take advantage of IoT devices and everything that comes into play here? There are the humans that are running around. There are drones that are hovering around. There are hundreds of areas and they all have these data nodes," Peter said.
"If you just build a single device, you're missing out on all the other opportunities for connecting these things. How do we bridge that connection problem?" he continued. "Some companies are quite literally putting a sensor in every piece of machinery that they're building. Companies like this are going to transform into a digital organization and basically use all the data that they're going to collect and give it to the world, and make solutions based on that."
Management of these new resources also becomes an important factor.
"Like all technologies, we have some social responsibility to make sure the thing is not misused. It does not replace human interaction, nor does it take a job away," Peter said. "It's supposed to be a simple structure dealing with itself, that enables me to control some things I would like."
Peter emphasized to his Tech in Motion audience that, at this stage of IoT's development, many factors remain largely undecided across multiple industries. Ultimately, however, the goal should be the same: designing and building products and experiences that make a difference in people's lives.
"That's my passion," he said. "That's my company's vision, to help these businesses improve those things that actually make a difference."
For more insights from Peter, read his article in UX Magazine: Embracing the Evolution toward the Experience of Things
projekt202 is a proud sponsor of Tech in Motion and an active supporter of our tech communities in Dallas, Austin and Seattle.