August 3, 2015 | By:

The Internet of Things

Since the invention of the World Wide Web in the late 80’s, technology has been exponentially improving at a seemingly fictional rate. We used to think that the supercomputer “Joshua” from the 1983 John Badham film “WarGames” was an impossible invention, and now our run-of-the-mill MacBook Pro can run the same simulation game with its eyes closed. We believed that the days of “I, Robot” and the technology used to create the holographic actress in S1MONE were unachievable science fiction, yet the robot Asimo is capable of performing numerous menial tasks and we have seen a very real holographic version of Tupac come back from the grave to perform. What’s next? “Beam Me Up, Scotty?” or the Hoverboard from Back to the Future? Or maybe the completely “Smart” House that functions on its own to serve the inhabitant? Although all three are currently in the making, let’s talk about that last one.

The internet of things (IoT) is a concept made possible by the use of cloud computing, which is the practice of using a network of remote servers that are hosted directly on the internet to process data, as opposed to using a local server or personal computer. Appliances and machines are now equipped with sensors and interface panels that allow the devices to be not only more useful in their own right, but also improve the user experience and can even improve the quality of life over time. You may have already had a taste of IoT if you own a smart thermostat program or have a household appliance equipped with sensors that report data through an app on your smartphone.

The internet of things has resulted in 2 major breakthroughs in technology: M2M communication and the use of smart sensors.

M2M communication refers to two machines communicating with one another in order to function more efficiently. Some washer and dryer combinations have the ability to communicate with one another so it will alert the user on their smartphone when the load is finished, and has the ability to know when electricity is the cheapest to keep down the cost of washing. There are smart refrigerators that keep track of your late-night snacking, and entry locks that can secure the deadbolt from your smart phone. Home automation is becoming a new standard, and it all requires the Internet of Things to work.

The precipice of this technology lies with Bill Gates of Microsoft, who has an entirely automated Smart House, complete with synched biometrics. If Mr. Gates feels cautious and wants to feel more secure, the house can sense his stress levels and close doors behind him with an automated locking system. The house can project any imagery onto any wall, sense what vitamins and nutrients the user is lacking, and there are over 15 spots in the house that are complete surface touch-screen computers.

So what does this mean for us mere mortals?

Eventually, the Internet of Things will be applied to every electronic device in your home, and your cell phone will be your life’s remote control, as if it hasn’t become that already. The awesome doesn’t stop there though. Smart Sensors and sensor networks are what make the Internet of Things a major breakthrough in technology. Back in 2007, a bridge in Minnesota collapsed, taking numerous lives with it. It collapsed due to cracks in the concrete and stress points breaking down. Now, we can rebuild that bridge with Smart Concrete, which has micro sensors in the mixture that will consistently measure the stress points, have the ability to collect data over time, and alert when critical concerns should be addressed. This kind of technology can be applied to virtually any substance or process, so it is up to the consumer market to dictate where this technology is best applied. City planners and Big Wig Construction and Holding companies are in the process of approving such things as Smart Buildings and Smart Community Parks.

So how does this change the Design & Advertising world? More so than you may think.

The boom of the internet brought about a completely new environment for those in the creative field. Digital replaced the analog, Web replaced Print, and scrolling replaced “above the fold”. “Print is dead” “Make that Facebook Official” What will come from this new form of internet computing?

The answer is interface design. We have already started to make a shift towards that direction with the use of mobile devices in our industry. Every website out there is struggling to make their presence “mobile friendly” or simple enough to be read and navigated through a 5 inch touch screen. (Please see our blog article “Mobilegeddon” to find out more on that subject) Now, user interface design will become the new web design. Everything will be based on ease of use, customizability and accurate functionality. There is going to be a new challenge in how to create simple sophistication, elegance in minimalism, and heavy emphasis on purposeful functionality. Aesthetic noise will become our biggest enemy, because every pixel will count that much more.

What kind of design will we be expecting? What will this mean for the world of digital design in general? How is this going to be any different from app design? Stay tuned for Part II.

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