10 key questions – and some answers – about IoT

Quoting from here, answers express my own opinion.

“The IoT SIG recently ran a thought leadership event on the theme of ‘People-centred design and the Internet of Things’. The group identified ten key questions for the future of IoT which were explored and developed through the course of the day.

A full report of the meeting can be found here.

Ten key questions for the future of the IoT

  1. How can we establish and negotiate technological priorities? In a world of limited bandwidth, the growth in connectivity will challenge our current networks capacity to cope with data. We need a better way of understanding which services should be prioritised –how can we make sure vital medical data isn’t slowed by audiences streaming Eastenders? Answer: There is huge research behind prioritisation and QoS, some of it already integrated in coming standards like 6LoWPAN and CoAP, we have the technology, we need to identify the needs and deploy it appropriately. When we reach the point that medical data is streamed together with movie (as an example) data from the same property, then existing solutions (hopefully) will emerge. 
  2. How can we take a lifelong perspective on services and objects? We currently design for beginnings – getting people connected and tied into a system. How can we make sure people end relationships with service providers as easily? As more big-ticket items become connected (cars, fridges etc) and are sold on to new owners and users, this becomes increasingly important. Answer: Time will show; user needs will drive eventually the requirements and design specifications of products and services!
  3. How can we balance aspirations for the IoT with the reality of what it will be able to deliver? There are strong tensions between the aspirations and our vision of a technological future and the pragmatics of our everyday lives. There is a mismatch between a consumer’s ideal world and the lived world. Answer: Yes it is difficult to deal with that, though most of the IoT enthusiasts can deal with technical glitches, less interoperability and unfriendly interfaces (like always discovering a bluetooth device before using it). Rest of the users (i.e. the majority) will probably receive and use products and services that have overcome such issues). 
  4. Who represents who? Who stands up for, educates, represents and lobbies for people using the IoT or connected products? Is this the role of people-centred designers? Answer: Good question, too many stakeholders in the beginning, few will survive..
  5. Who are the people using it? How do we define the communities, circles or tribes that use each product and their relationship to each other? Answer: That’s a wrong I think, IoT should not be intended for a specific group of users, it should be able to penetrate every market and every aspect of life.
  6. What can we learn about the IoT from taking a historical analysis of the web? How can technological change inform technological future? Answer: Past cannot teach a lot, so many different circumstances, present can only show some different perspective of things.
  7. What is value of an agile approach? How can rapid prototyping or lean approaches help us to drive new product developments and how do they fit with a people-centred methodology. How can government nurture disruption, and is it their role? Answer: Rapid prototyping and lean approaches will at least demonstrate the use cases of IoT, facilitate initial distribution of devices and services, assist in collecting initial feedback from users and help formalize IoT requirements for success!
  8. How can we track “Things” and what will this tell us about their use? Answer: Tracking is not difficult, interpreting data was, is and will be in the near future the main challenge. Semantics is the answer, but we are a bit far from a good solution.
  9. What  are the new interfaces and dashboards that will help people to interact with the IoT? How important will the distinction be between things that have a screen and don’t have a screen? Answer: What is really the difference? Information dissemination matters, and web is ubiquitous! Interfaces will surely change to accommodate processed information and controls!
  10. Do we create value and value chains that reward creators or just users? We know that established value chains are being disrupted. Services like Fixmytransport.com have become successful by identifying new consumer needs. We should ask, where’s the pain? But how to ensure that creators are rewarded for these developments. “

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