PSFK Presents The Real World Web Report

PSFK Labs launches new report that examines how the internet of things will impact our lives.

In just over five years, industry research estimates that we could see over 30 billion devices connected to the web, the majority of which won’t be a smartphone, tablet or PC. As everything from home appliances and vehicles to entire city systems literally comes online, we’ll see an explosion of object able to capture data about what’s happening in and around them, and report that information out to people and other systems in near real-time. As we explore in-depth in our just released Real World Web report, increasingly, these behaviors will be accompanied by some level of automated response, moving us towards a world that is both self-aware and self-regulating.

Driven by a combination of low-cost sensor technologies (capture), far-reaching Wi-Fi networks (connect) and cloud intelligence (analyze), this so-called ‘Internet of Things’ has far-reaching consequences for the lives of individuals and society, many of which we’re still trying to conceive of and understand. As noted technology expert, Tim O’Reilly, says, “so many of the most interesting applications of the Internet of Things involve new ways of thinking about how humans and things cooperate differently when the things get smarter.”

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To that end, imagine a future where ours homes are able to understand a complex range of human behaviors and emotions, providing personalized assistance and support at key moments in our days. Eventually, this could even lead to our technologies anticipating our needs, offering up a host of relevant actions – a reminder to take your vitamins, a soundtrack ideally suited to your current mood or ordering up milk and eggs before you run out. When scaled up to the level of municipal infrastructure and natural systems, we’re seeing the potential to change the way our planet operates, delivering greater knowledge, safety and efficiencies. This could mean crops that send alerts about soil and weather conditions to optimize their yield, vehicles that brake or turn to avoid cyclists and pedestrians or street lighting that constantly adjusts to traffic flow to cut down on wasted energy.

Of course, this push to connect every aspect of our world raises a number of issues as well. While autonomous systems hold great promise for freeing up our time and other resources, how much control are we actually willing to give up and how do we ensure we maintain a sense of agency? Add in the notion of personal information privacy, which takes on an even bigger role when we’re no longer the ones pushing send, and we’ll need to begin making important decisions about who owns this data, who can use it and where it all goes. And in the same way the World Wide Web held the promise of universal and unfettered access for every global citizen with the ability to get online, we’ll need to figure out a set of open standards and practices for governing the Internet of Things as it becomes more fully integrated in the fabric of our lives.

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The following report on the Real World Web, in a partnership between PSFK Labs and IQ by Intel, is intended to open up the conversation around the possibilities and challenges created by the Internet of Things. In it, we’ve described ten trends organized around three larger themes – Community Net, Empathy Tech and Conscious Planet - that explore the role that Wi-Fi-enabled technologies will play in the connected ecosystems of the future, and their impact on consumer lifestyles and behaviors. Each of the trends have been supported by six best-in-class examples of related products and services, along with a list of experts, industry statistics and implications, which point to potential opportunities to leverage these insights.

Click here to download the free version of the report.

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