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Getting Everyday Objects to Think


A representation of the Internet of Things.

Ayla Networks co-founder and Stanford University professor Thomas Lee sees the Internet of Things bringing people "a far richer, more interesting world in which we're increasingly interconnected with things."

Credit: Business Insider

In an interview, Ayla Networks co-founder and Stanford University professor Thomas Lee discusses the future of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Lee notes the definition of the IoT has evolved since its conception in the 1990s, when it was largely seen as a mechanism for machine-to-machine communications. "Since then, the trajectory's surprised people," he says. "Humans are now part of the loop in a very intimate way, and I think that will continue to be true as we inhabit a far richer, more interesting world where we're increasingly interconnected with things."

Lee envisions the smartphone as "having become a kind of digital remote control for my life," which he will use to turn things on and off as the IoT matures. He also says the IoT will be used for security and monitoring, and to merge data from various geographical areas. For example, wireless sensors could provide alerts when rust appears on bridges, to help municipalities address problems while avoiding superfluous inspections.

Although he concedes that standards wars are likely to occur, Lee predicts the IoT will connect 50 billion objects in the next five years and 1 trillion devices by 2030. Lee says making these objects will require a new skill set and involve new companies.

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