The Internet of Things has continued to emerge as a trend this year within the consumer electronics sector. Everyone’s trying to get into the game, with connected devices now ranging from dog collars to toasters to sneakers, all getting connected to “the cloud.”
This is an exciting trend for consumer electronics in general, but we as an industry need to take a step back and realize that true connectivity extends beyond just the cloud.
Just because something is connected to the Internet, doesn’t mean it’s truly part of an Internet of Things (or as we like to call it at Qualcomm, the “Internet of Everything”). What’s unique about the Internet is its openness — the ability for one website to link to any other and leverage information in novel ways. Remember when the word “mashup” was all the rage in Web talk? Why was that? Because you just could. You could have one website leverage data and APIs from another website and mash that up to deliver a completely new, cool Web service, a la LivePlasma.com, Pageflakes.com, HousingMaps.com, etc.
So what’s the problem? Aren’t all these hot new connected IoT devices connected up to the cloud? Well, that’s the problem. We are oversimplifying the landscape. Each specific device seems to connect to its particular cloud service. There isn’t really one cloud. Every manufacturer has their own cloud service, and often these clouds are closed, proprietary environments. Devices that live in their own siloed cloud cannot speak to one another, meaning they cannot benefit from the data, context or control of nearby IoT devices. That is why we currently need a separate app to control — and interface with — each connected thing we buy. This may be acceptable in the near term, but it cannot scale.
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