Every day, more and more is written about the Internet of Things (known at Qualcomm as the Internet of Everything). The geek world loves the idea of everything being connected. I’m a geek and I love that idea. But as enthusiastic as people like me and companies like Qualcomm may be, the average person walking around is not thinking, “oh, if these things around me were just smarter, my life would be so much better!”
25 billion connected things by the end of the decade
The thing is, whether or not they want it, they are going to have it. The growth of the Internet of Everything is happening now and it will only accelerate. And this future is not merely about cloud connectivity or the hub-and-spoke paradigm of a computer reaching out to a server. The Internet of Everything will have lots of client-server interactions but it will have even more interactions among intelligent things at the edge of the network. Machina Research predicts that by 2020 there will be some 25 billion connected things. The vast majority of these things won’t be in the cloud, they will be at the edge of the network—where the people are.
Will people know they are surrounded by intelligent things they can interact with? Some will, of course. There are plenty of geeks like me out there. Will your mom? And even if she knows (maybe you explained it all to her on a drive to see your aunt), will she really access these things? Will she have these things interacting with each other to make her life easier and richer? I predict yes.
But getting smarts into things is the easy part. Qualcomm is but one among hundreds of companies driving toward this goal. Qualcomm, every other company driving the Internet of Things, all of us have lots of really smart engineers and product designers figuring out how to put smarts in things and how to get things to be smart about the smart things around them. There will be an enormous amount of smarts at The Intelligent Edge.
People: The smartest “things” in the Internet of Everything
But the smartest things at The Intelligent Edge are people. And people adopt technology when the benefit to them is clear (not because it is geeky cool). So here is another prediction: The emphasis in the Internet of Things that emerges when the edge of the network is rife with intelligence is going to shift—from things (hardware) to user experiences (software). Your mom is never going to know or care about the Internet of intelligent things around her (because she’s pretty smart too) until those things make sense to her as a useful part of her life.
UX (geek speak for “user experience”). This is the future of the Internet of Everything. The full realization of the Internet of Things awaits real breakthroughs in UI design, deep thought on the total user experience and innovations in human factors engineering—on both the hardware and software side of the equation, but mainly this is a software challenge. The stars of the fully realized Internet of Everything (which includes the users themselves) will be software developers. Think like your mom and you will be a step ahead of the rest as you help the geek world make the intelligence at the edge of the network meaningful to the average individual.
Hope to see you at Uplinq 2014
Uplinq is just a few days away. The Intelligent Edge and its implications for networks, systems and services are on our minds. Steve Mollenkopf will discuss it in his opening keynote on Sept. 18. In my keynote on Day 2, I will dive deeper into the implications of this proliferation of intelligence at the edge of the network. We’re in San Francisco for Uplinq this year—which I think is great—and I hope to see you and talk to you there.