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More in Common than You Might Think

Expert.ai Team - 10 June 2014

Take objects in your daily life. Now, equip them with technology that allows them collect data and to communicate with each other, and to us, to make our lives better.

Your car might provide you with directions but it can also let the manufacturer know how you drive, what speed and in what geography. By learning more about your usage habits and adjusting the temperature accordingly, your new connected refrigerator may help you be more energy efficient.

The auto industry has long collected usage and performance data from their vehicles now in some markets auto insurers are using the same capability to know your driving habits and price premiums based on the data collected. This connectivity is what’s being called “The Internet of Things”. The Internet of Things is the expanding network of physical objects that collect information, communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment according to Gartner, which reports that there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.

Big challenge and big opportunity

As “the internet of things” becomes an increasingly common component of our daily lives, the transition of simple data collection to communication will logically follow. It seemed farfetched when Captain Kirk talked to the Enterprise’s computer when the original Star Trek series debuted in the 1960s, as did the communicator they used. But today, many of us don’t think twice before grabbing ours Smartphones to ask it a question or instruct it to make a call. I think it won’t be long before our kids will simply ask the refrigerator if there is anything they like rather than open the door and stare at the contents.

Things are changing. Our interactions with the devices we employ through our daily lives are becoming more focused on communication. This prognostication seems obvious—people do not communicate via data, systems do. Nor do people process like systems, we process like people.

Just as the graphical interface and mouse changed the method of interface and interaction in computing, so will the interface change as more devices become connected. Computing required a more accessible method of interface; choosing a graphical representation of the functionality was much simpler than having to know the location and command line instruction to launch the program.

With the common method of interaction, we will speak, devices will read, the design will be predicated upon our needs and less so upon the device. The trend seems so simple—for us to understand these devices, the devices must understand us.

The difference is meaning.

Data is an abstraction, understanding is communication, and to understand and communicate one must know meaning. At Expert System we are in the business of meaning, that’s what (pun intended) semantics means. Our software reads much the way people do, and in the not too distant future, so might your refrigerator read and or identify its contents so we won’t have to ask our kids to close the refrigerator door.