Recently, I came across a blog written by Dominique Guinard on “Web of Things”. It was about his interview for an article on “Internet of Things” published in Discovery Magazine. The article itself was interesting, but what really caught my eye was his description of the reaction of the interviewer (David H. Freedman) on the following question.
“What are the killer apps of the Internet/Web of Things?”
This is a million-dollar question. Yes. A lot of WSN gurus and experts claim they “know” what the answer is. Many of them actually list tens of (if not hundreds) examples of “killer apps” for WSN. However, it is interesting to see that everyone has a different set of answers. The mere fact that you have to list tens of examples of “killer apps” shows it is not easy to find a true “killer app” for WSN.
So, what is the reality?
The “killer app” has always been a critical question for WSN and IoT. We all assume/know that WSN and IoT will shape the future world of “connected devices”. However, the question is, “if and when all the devices are connected, how much will it benefit consumers and at what cost?” Simply saying “the refrigerators will be able to talk to TV sets” will not drive the adoption of WSN and IoT. Or even arguing “you will be able to save $10 a month on your electric bill” will not drive the adoption much either. We need to begin with very real applications that consumers can feel and understand the benefits of and be willing to pay for, even if those applications are mundane or unattractive.
Frankly, today’s conventional WSN technology cannot fulfill the requirements to implement the world of true ubiquitous computing. Today’s technology still cannot connect millions of self-powered (or no-powered) devices/sensors/actuators and let them communicate intelligently and reliably; and these are some of the reasons why conventional WSN and IoT remain in niche markets only.
This reality, of course, will change in the future. Between now and then, we need to get down to earth and think about what kind of application can truly benefit and excite consumers.
Update : Also see my follow-up article here.