Given that a portion of my previous career path included a stint as a practitioner of the culinary arts, I was both thrilled and horrified when I saw that Oracle was providing guidance on how to have your turkey provide you with status tweets from the oven! Unfortunately, it is not something that I will be attempting as it included directions such as “If all went well on your Raspberry Pi, you should be able to bring up a terminal shell connected to your RPi and type "lsusb" to verify that the Go!Temp probe is now connected” as well as writing multiple lines of inscrutable computer code.
It does, however, open up the fascinating subject of IoT or the “Internet of Things”. IoT refers to the way in which the physical world itself is becoming an information system. This includes not only all of the smart devices that you are probably already familiar with, but also a wide range of other physical objects connected to the internet and one another. These range from devices designed to help you track your own activities of daily living such as NikeFuel to Smart Dust, computers smaller than a grain of sand that could be sprayed or injected anywhere to measure chemical concentrations or diagnose illness.
IoT is already huge and projected to become gargantuan. Intel projects it will grow from the current 2 billion devices to 200 billion by 2020 (nice info graphic here). It will almost certainly disrupt products, markets, and whole industries. This will certainly include the processes of manufacturing (McKinsey predicts that 40% of the connected devices will be related to real time analytics of supply chains and equipment), but it will also include the consumer demands that will drive innovations across the entire range of purchased goods. Anyone conducting environmental scanning for a strategic plan (as we here at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership are currently doing) would be well advised to include this emerging mega-trend.
But back to our Thanksgiving example... While I think it is all well and good to have the turkey be an active participant in helping to get the yams in on time, what I really need is a smart plate that emails me The Surgeon General’s Report on Obesity if I reach for a third helping of stuffing.