It may be difficult to describe what exactly the phrase “an internet of things” means, but the pieces of the puzzle that are required for that to develop are all here today, ThingM CEO Mike Kuniavsky told attendees at GigaOM’s Mobilize conference in San Francisco. Those puzzle pieces include ubiquitous network connectivity, cloud-based services, cheap assembly of electronics, social design, open collaboration tools and low-volume sales channels. When put together, Kuniavsky said, they create an “innovation ecosystem” that is the foundation for an internet of things.
ThingM is what Kuniavsky called a “micro-OEM” that creates small batch custom electronics for a variety of clients, but the ThingM CEO and co-founder is actually a designer by training, who worked in web design and then user design before founding Adaptive Path, and who still works as a design consultant for large electronics companies and has written a book called Smart Things. The ThingM CEO said that based on his understanding of the custom electronics market, the “landscape in which we’re creating ubiquitous devices is about to fundamentally change.”
Although the phrase “internet of things” has become a popular buzzword that Gartner Research recently included on its Hype Cycle, Kuniavsky said that there are already aspects of this phenomenon that are affecting our lives — for example, the use of RFID chips and near-field communications (NFC) can help tell us where the food we buy was grown, while GPS and other technologies are allowing cities to reinvent things like the parking meter so that they can apply time-based pricing. Small companies like Green Goose are taking advantage of these trends by selling tiny stick-on widgets that include a sensor and a communications chip.
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