Talking about the Internet of Things

When we talk about the Internet of Things (IoT) we develop are particular mindset. There is an explicit reliance on technology and an implicit exclusion of people. When we talk about IoT projects, we define and frame a solution to a “problem” as a piece of technology rather than addressing a human need. From smart cities to adaptive homes, the potential of what the IoT affords is fascinating. However, I’ve always lost interest in the discussion due to it’s reliance on technology. I’m not talking about the technical jargon or engineering skills required to tap into or understand the connected network. I lose interest because the IoT mindset fetishizes technologybecause it is a technology. By talking about the IoT as a thing in and of itself, we are inherently excluding the human on the other side.

I find that quite boring.

Rather than addressing a problem and discovering that a connected device is most appropriate, we approach connected devices as an imagined solution and start to apply problems.

Have you ever accidentally left your tap running and left the house…?

No, I didn’t think so. An IoT mindset defines this as a problem because the technology allows it, not because human patterns demand it.

The Internet of Things has been around for a long time. We seem to be entering the wild west as the barriers to entry are reduced and it enters a more consumer friendly domain. Designers and technologist imaginations we will continually attempt to apply it to some problem. Some of these problems may very well be justified, but until we disconnect this IoT mindset we will continue to develop techno-centric solutions for the sake of technology.

There are still lots of discussions needed to be had about data security, open standards, and engineering problems, but for the love of design let’s remember that the IoT is the technological application to a solution, not the solution.