Take a gander through any technology publication, stop by a technology event, or dive headfirst into a conversation with your average technologist and you’ll undoubtedly trip over a conversation about the Internet of Things. The idea of connecting devices – not just computers, tablets and phones – but an unlimited variety of “things” to the internet has been the future.
You know what I’m talking about – connected refrigerators, smart thermostats, and, of course, autonomous cars. IoT is undoubtedly all the rage. Until now.
IoT is officially dead.
The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) has been the annual showcase for new IoT devices. For the past 5 years I’ve watched as the latest and greatest of IoT devices are launched and showcased. First it was televisions. Then it was thermostats. CES is the place to spot trends and gain insight into what the next “big thing” is going to be.
I remember well the years of the “wearable.” In 2014 every other booth seemed to showcase a connected armband of some sort – a watch or a fitness tracker. In 2015, the knockoffs had fallen away (CES 2015: Health and Wellness to Leap – David DeWolf), but, the mainstays had matured and taken huge leaps forward towards the vision that was promised. It was no longer about the watch or fitness trackers. It was about the actionable information they could provide.
That was the year I walked out knowing that connected watches weren’t a trend, but, a reality that had to be addressed. It became obvious that if the rumors about Apple developing a watch weren’t true, that they soon would be scrambling to catch up. I knew then, that at some point, I’d have a smartwatch on my wrist. And sure enough, 3 years later, as I write this, I do.
But, this year was different. If past years were about televisions, thermostats and wearables, this year was about smart, connected, breast pumps.
Yes, you read that right. Breast Pumps.
Now listen, as a father of 7 and husband of a breastfeeding mother, I’m all for smart breast pumps. It’s an application of technology that I totally get and will cheer for for the sake of my wife. But, let’s all admit it, at the point in which razors (yes, I saw one of those at CES too) and breast pumps become smart and connected, you know that connected devices are no longer all that innovative.
Here’s the brutal reality. Everything at CES this year was connected. Sensor saturation has become a reality. And, only those who were obviously out of touch dared to tout the fact that their products were. It was an expectation. Your drone. Your car. Your chair. All of them are expected to be connected.
There is absolutely nothing special about connecting your device to the internet and collecting data from it anymore. In fact, if you’re not doing it, you’re rather far behind.
IoT was first coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton (Executive Director of the auto-id center at MIT). Just 9 years later, in 2008, Cisco announced the official birth of IoT as they saw more “things” connected to the internet than humans.
And, somewhere in 2017 it saturated the market. It became the new normal.
IoT as a buzzword describing the future is officially dead.