The Internet of things will enable a new world of connected experiences that will radically shift the way people interact with everything. It will require businesses to fundamentally transform their approaches to be successful in this new era.

The Phrase, “The Internet of Things, was just recently added to the oxford English dictionary. This comes 14 years after its coinage by technologist Kevin Ashton, who coined the phrase back in a 1999 presentation. Ashton deserves credit for his foresight because what seems like a natural progression today may have felt like a fantasy back then. It’s a term that has been bandied about the tech community in recent years and in fact, its meaning has become somewhat diluted. However, it is of crucial importance that we understand what it means and how it is evolving, because it will lead to the future of business, design and daily life.


The Internet Of Things Will Connect Everything

“The Internet of Things” can be a nebulous term. The “internet” has already become a bit of an abstract concept today, omnipotent in nearly every part of our lives – and, well, “things” are things. But the basic premise of the IoT is that everyday objects are going to become equipped with sensors, unique identifiers, and the ability to digitally transmit information to us and to each other – and these are not just things with overt wires, screens, and buttons, but everything. It’s predicated on the understanding that as sensors and chips get smaller and cheaper, they will make their way into more and more everyday objects. Those objects will then be connected to us in new ways that will transform and augment the way we interact with the physical world.


The Internet Of Things Will Be Progressive

Entrepreneur Rafi Haladijan asserted in 2009 that the development of the internet of things is not going to be the result of an exact decision, but rather something that is inevitably going to happen as a result of the availability of the technology. In the five years since Haladijan’s speech, we’ve seen the expansion of the internet of things in several interesting ways. The complete vision is not here yet, but it is coming. We’ve got smart scales that collect and analyze our health, thermostats that monitor our homes, lightbulbs that can be controlled from halfway around the world. There are trash cans that broadcast their capacity to optimize for emptying and cars whose status can be checked without even popping the hood. This is just a sampling of some of the everyday consumer devices that are beginning to be connected to the IoT. And that’s without looking at the maker community, which is using DIY tools like Arduino, Twine, and Tethercell to connect things in innovative ways.

Beyond the consumer dimension, some of the most significant advances are occurring within the Industrial Internet of Things in which enterprise-wide operations within manufacturing, aviation healthcare, logistics industries are leveraging IoT platforms and systems to gain greater efficiency and automation.

It’s important for businesses, designers, and consumers to understand the Internet of Things as a reality that is slowly building. Tech blogs and newspapers are itching to announce with fanfare that the “Internet of Things has Arrived” with every new smartwatch and wifi light bulb. However, it is still very much in its infancy and there is much user experience research, technical development, and social barriers to be tackled before the true promise is delivered.


The Internet Of Things Requires Restructuring

The true realization of the Internet of Things is still to come, but we’re already starting to see signs of it. Cisco predicts that in 2020 there will be 50 Billion connected devices and that much of this will come from the expansion of the Internet of Things. That is roughly 6.58 devices per person. (If you feel overly connected as it is, you are in for quite a shock.) The scale, reach and opportunities will be so pervasive that it will require radical transformation and restructuring of systems and mindsets.

The Internet of Things represents a future where it’s easier to be productive because everything works better together to support people’s goals. But it requires a new way of thinking. A true embracing of what it means to be mobile and connected — it will not be about devices, but about connected lifestyles.

To engage on the path towards this hyper-connected future, Punchcut has defined a few key principles that can guide the move forward for businesses and designers in this new connected era.


Better Information, Not More Information

People develop an affinity for companies that connect with them at just the right times and in the right quantities. Ask yourself, is this information people really need. If everything has embedded sensors and is sending and receiving data, it’s easy to overload people. People don’t always need more information — they need better information. Find opportunities where your service can help people take control of their lives and make more productive decisions. For example, a few years ago an ambient umbrella was produced that would glow if rain is expected in the next 12 hours, helping people prepare for the day. Rather than presenting a screen with the full weather report, the umbrella simply lets people know if they needed the umbrella or not. Similarly, the success of biometric wearables like pedometers and wristbands relies on how simple the information is presented. In a growing ecosystem, focus on where your product or service can offer the most value. Keep it smart, keep it simple, and keep people interested, not over stimulated.


Let Things Talk To Other Things

Simplicity is a noble pursuit, but realistically, how are you supposed to make sense of all those devices? Sometimes, innovation is created by what you leave out. The smartphone doesn’t have to be the terminal for all exchanges of information. Think about how objects can work things out amongst themselves. Take, for example, the Nismo watch by Nissan. It connects directly to a car and imports information about the driver’s habits. No phone necessary. The car isn’t just playing Pandora and the watch is doing more than reading a text message — the two objects are working together to sense potential collisions and find more safe and efficient ways for the driver to get where they want to go. In such a way, inanimate objects are talking to each other like never before and creating real value. We urge our clients to recognize these possibilities across the Internet of Things. Reduce your dependency on smartphones as the window of information, and start exploring how objects themselves can be messengers.


Help Make Sense Of Things

While things are talking to other things, consider what people want to hear. Some exchanges of information are best when they’re invisible and people can tune in on a need-to-know basis. How can you help people gain control of their lives and make useful conclusions with the data you’ve collected? There are thermostats that can be controlled remotely, light bulbs that can be powered through the internet from anywhere in the world, trashcans that broadcast their capacity, and cars that can be evaluated without even popping the hood. Find what that sense of control looks like for your offering. People don’t want data for data’s sake but, rather, they want an understanding that can help them get things done easier and faster. And they’re loyal to the brands that support those behaviors.


People don’t want data for data’s sake but, rather, they want an understanding that can help them get things done easier and faster.



Don’t Just Build Technology, Build Trust

Amidst greater efficiency and the vision of the world where everything is connected, there is more data being collected. And shared. As The Internet of Things matures, you need to maintain a focus on protecting people’s privacy and safety. First and foremost, build trust. The trouble people have with data collection is that they don’t know what kind of data is being collected or how it’s being used. Help alleviate these fears by showing people how their data, products, and the Internet of Things are safe and beneficial to them. A little communication now goes a long way in building an experience that is part of someone’s future.


Converge Teams To Converge Experiences

The Internet of Things is a thread that will continue to weave a more convergent digital world. This convergence is merging multiple dimensions into one cohesive fabric supporting intuitive connections across consumers and businesses. In order to create products for this seamless world, it requires the integration of a diverse set of skills and talents to ensure there is continuity of experiences. The collaboration will be required at all levels from teams, companies, industries, municipalities and beyond. The key for organizations is to recognize that to create for connected world teams must be blended and interdependent. Companies will need to find ways to partner with each other to ensure a common infrastructure is established for sharing and distribution of information and services.


The Internet of Things lets us dream big for a new tomorrow where everything is a little bit smarter and a little more understanding of our needs, helping to make our lives easier. Inanimate objects are coming to life and strengthening the communication between people and “things.” This enhanced communication has opened up tremendous opportunities for companies to increase efficiency and productivity across all aspects of people’s lives.

Giving advice on how to prepare for the Internet of Things is like saying how to prepare for the industrial revolution or the advent of the internet itself. But what it truly requires is a thoughtful eye for how it will change the world we live in. As it comes to fruition, the key to its success is to reach beyond the internet and the things – and focus on people. The more connected the world becomes the more people need to feel supported, protected and empowered. As technology moves into more and more things and ultimately into humans, we must ensure that it is enhancing the human experience not challenging it.