Why the internet of things has to be not too smart and not too dumb, but just right

internetofthings

It’s 8 a.m. on a Tuesday. Your alarm clock senses movement and surmises you are awake. “Would you like a cup of coffee?” it queries.

The internet of things promises a sci-fi future. Electronics interact with one another to gauge and meet your needs, such as brewing a pot of coffee when you wake up groggy.

What does it feel like to constantly interact with devices? In 1991, computer scientist Mark Weiser detailed a vision for ubiquitous computing that called for very simple exchanges to limit demands on the user.┬áBut Intel Research Scientist Jennifer Healey thinks this is a mistake. She doesn’t just want her alarm clock to ask if she wants coffee. She wants it to know preemptively if she even likes coffee.

Jennifer Healey spoke at the annual Research@Intel event Tuesday. Intel

Intel Research Scientist Jennifer Healey spoke at the annual Research@Intel event Tuesday. <em>Intel</em>

“Just limiting the intelligence of the device isn’t going to solve the interaction problem,” Healey said at the annual Research@Intel event. Limit connected electronics to just “yes” or “no” questions and you’ll find yourself reintroducing yourself to them every single day.

“The nightmare we’re going to face …. is something akin to what Bill Murray faced in the movie ‘Groundhog Day,'” Healey added.

Instead, individuals should have a cloud of personal data that their connected electronics can access. An alarm clock could check if they are a tea or coffee person, or even if they have an important event on their calendar that requires them to be extra alert.

When Weiser’s vision of interacting with hundreds of connected devices a day comes true, it will be important that electronics don’t access too much data either. Like autonomous cars exchanging information in the split second before they pass, there isn’t room for extraneous details. Transfer needs to be direct and almost instantaneous.

“I don’t want my alarm clock to download my entire financial history,” Healey said. “That’s over-sharing.”

In order for the internet of things to work, there can’t be any friction. Instead, people will flit between devices that are not too smart and not too dumb, but just right.

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