Internet of things blurs the line between bits and atoms

Imagine googling your home to find your child’s lost toy, or remotely turning on the tumble dryer for yet another cycle – after it has text you that the clothes were still damp, or your plant tweeting you to be watered.

It might have been sci-fi just a decade ago, but with the Internet forcing its way into every aspect of our lives, cyberspace is leaking out into the real world. In the past few months, companies ranging from giants such as Google to small start-ups have been touting the possibility of interconnecting people and objects – lightbulbs, fridges, cars, buildings – to create an internet of things.

Many say this is a trend bound to hit us all in the near future. “Some of the things that are possible are truly unbelievable,” says Constantine Valhouli from the Hammersmith Group, a strategy consulting firm.

“We’ve moved from a desktop internet to mobile phones and mobile internet – the next step is buildings and objects, enabling us to communicate with them directly or enabling them to even bypass people entirely and communicate directly with each other.” Imagine a production line where machines alert one another about production problems or bottlenecks, or cars that warn each other about driving conditions or a crash on the road ahead.