Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Everything Will Be Connected

Conspiracy theorists like to tell us that "it's all connected." Pretty soon they'll be right, just not it the way they mean.

A recent article in the Economist sketches out the outlines of the coming connectedness of everyday objects through embedded computer chips and wireless technology.
This year around 10 billion microprocessors will be sold, embedded in anything from computers to coffee-makers. The vast majority of them will be able to “think” but not “talk”: they will perform specific tasks but cannot communicate. But this is now starting to change. The cost, size and power requirements of wireless functions are falling rapidly, so some unlikely candidates are now being connected to networks. For example, bridges and buildings are being monitored for structural integrity by small sensors. Farmland is being watched and irrigation systems are being switched on and off remotely.
"a giant network of 'everyware'"

Yes indeed, our world is being radically transformed into a giant network of "everyware." Rather than the current configuration of spokes connecting computers to hubs, everything will become a hub, connected to other hubs...everything else. But what will this uber-connectedness mean?

One of the most transformative effects of everyware will be the ability to be more precise. As in the nanotechnology field, it's all about precision, leading to massive increases in efficiency and productivity. No more "one-size-fits-all," blunt-force approaches, or using a cannon to take out a fly.
To illustrate what that world might be like, Robert Poor, the co-founder of two wireless companies, Adozu and Ember, uses a modest example: light fixtures in buildings. If every one of them contained a small wireless node, people would not only be able to control the lighting more effectively but put them to many other uses too. If the nodes were programmed to serve as online smoke detectors, they could signal a fire as well as show its location. They could also act as a security system or provide internet connectivity to other things in the building.
Devices will talk to each other...
Apple's iPod and Nike's running shoes can interconnect so that the music player can select songs that match the jogger's pace. Large organisations such as retailers, hospitals and the armed forces are using RFID tags for managing stock levels. More robust versions of the technology are deployed in “contactless” bank cards, passports and public-transport passes.
Computers are going to disappear into the fabric of everyday objects. But don't forget that they are there. Talking to each other. Stay tuned.

Via Soft Machines

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