Summary:

While most think of the internet of things as a network of, well things, most interactions still require a person in the workflow.

As machine-to-machine communication gets rolled out across all types of devices from your smartphone to the jet engine that powers your airplane, you might get the impression that the need for an actual person in all that interaction is being erased.

And you would be wrong, according to Jeff Lawson, CEO of Twilio, the company that facilitates a lot of that machine to machine interaction with its cloud-based communications service.

Sure a vending machine can phone or message headquarters to say it’s low on Skittles, but at some point a carbon-based life form will have to get that notification and deliver the goods.

“At the end of the day, there’s a human — the vending machine may send SMS alerts and a farm’s moisture system may ping that the field is dry, but it’s usually a human that’s being alerted,” Lawson said GigaOM’s Mobilize event.

Another news flash: despite the fact that voice is no longer the preferred mode of communications for the SMSing and texting millions, voice communications remain king when it comes to “life-changing events,” he said. People don’t sign a mortgage or close a million dollar sale without actually talking to someone, Lawson said.

Still, machine-to-machine comms can make people’s lives easier. Imagine if your malfunctioning TV pings its maker to alert it as to its problem and gets “fixed” remotely without you having to lift a finger.

That scenario is getting more likely, with the advent of technology like Twilio’s Picture Messaging, which could send a photo of a wiring problem or some other mechanical issue to customer support automatically.

Here’s how Twilio described the technology:

Combine the power of an image with the reach of sending a text. Introducing Picture Messaging for Twilio Short Codes to send and receive pictures over the MMS protocol. Build trust with your customers through visual interaction, simplify the complex with a picture, or drive action with visual cues.

So, if my Comcast cable box can talk to Comcast’s bot to figure out why my TV is showing  pixillated images, I am freed up to do higher-value things, like mixing a cocktail. That’s the kind of machine-to-machine communication I can get behind.

Check out the rest of our Mobilize 2013 coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:


A transcription of the video follows on the next page
page of 2

Comments have been disabled for this post