Internet of Things: Dealing with data

It’s important to consider where data is coming from when thinking about the Internet of Things. A lot of the useful data we might use personally naturally comes from us. So, it’s not so much an internet of things as an internet of people – with things that gather data.

DJ Patil, a data scientist with Graylock Partners recently gave a talk at Le Web about how we could be using data to improve ourselves.

“It should be the Internet of nouns,” he told The Next Web. “A noun being a person, place or thing. When we think about ourselves, we create data – things like our temperature, perspiration, our heart rate, can all be measured. So the way we instrument ourselves can help us to understand more about ourselves.”

One of Patil’s clear examples is the data we use in medicine: “We can build jet engines that tell us when they’re sick. Why don’t we have a world where the doctor looks at your data, calls you and says “you’re not looking that well, maybe you should come in now”?

One of the technologies at Le Web that really seemed to be on the fringes of consumer technology was the Muse headband from InteraXon. Simply put, it’s a headband that reads brainwaves so that users can collect data about themselves and even work on exercises to improve focus and attention.

It’s another example of how collecting data can help us make better choices, but InteraXon co-founder Ariel Garten sees a future where our brain waves may be the trigger which can change the physical world around us.

“Way, way down the road, this is a technology that is going to be used to turn on and off the lighting in your own home,” she told The Next Web. “It will be able to let your computer know when you’re frustrated so you can change the size of the monitor so you can interact more effectively. It’s something that’s going to allow technology to support you more readily and effectively.”

Garten’s sensational demonstration on stage at Le Web saw the event’s host Loic Le Meur type out an email. Doesn’t sound so shocking initially, but as he typed, his emotional state dynamically changed the font his words appeared in. It looked a lot like magic.

To paraphrase William Gibson, the Internet of Things is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed. The Muse headband will go on sale in 2013, Lockitron is also shipping next year, Fitbits are spreading and the data keeps growing.

It looks as though 2013 will be a real breakthrough year when it comes to bringing the Internet of Things to a wider market. If platforms do become more accessible and standards are set, then if you can think of a ‘thing’ and find the data to connect to, it seems as though almost anything could be possible.