The observation that the Internet of Things encompasses people holds a number of transformative business and societal implications. This form of IoT innovation can be aggregated and analyzed to create fundamentally new types of products and services.
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The observation that the Internet of Things encompasses people holds a number of transformative business and societal implications. The data and information flows that continually emanate from people and devices can be aggregated and analyzed to create fundamentally new types of products and services that go with the grain of human psychology. At first blush, the obvious implication is that everyday objects can and will become better, more efficient versions of what they already are. For example, complex machines such as airplanes, automobiles, agricultural equipment, and power plants can be tagged to emanate streams of data used to monitor and predict the time to failure of critical parts—which allows replacements and repairs to be conducted before breakage or failure. Medical cargoes can be monitored for environmental changes and safe transport. Smart streetlights use less energy to illuminate neighborhoods. In short, we can make devices “smarter” versions of their current selves thanks to the information flows enabled by cheap and widespread smart components and interconnectivity. The linking of devices to networks changes the nature of these devices in at least two fundamental ways. First, data and information—long used to achieve efficiencies in the creation, marketing, and distribution of things—increasingly become imbued in the things themselves. For example, T-shirts, eyeglasses, sports equipment, mobile phones, automobiles, and fashion accessories can double as data-capturing and information-delivery devices. They increasingly become media of data products and services. Second, as things become increasingly networked, the networks themselves emerge as new classes of products and services. It is now meaningful to speak of smart homes, smart farms, and smart cities thanks to the flows of information enabling improved efficiencies and coordination amongst linked devices. This gives product companies new opportunities to become providers of information and services. The IoT is giving rise to what might be called a “transfiguration of the commonplace,” with all of the societal and business model implications that this implies.5 The nature and functions of everyday things—and the networked environments they comprise—will continue to evolve, thanks to the infusion of data, information, and network linkages into their basic designs. Things change.