The Internet of Me

I recently attended the TSensors summit, a conference organized by Janusz Bryzek to explore the idea that the Sensory Revolution is driving towards a trillion-sensor marketplace. By design, the conference debated what such a marketplace would look like, where these sensors would come from, and what its impact would be. Suspending disbelief that a trillion of anything can be produced annually, the comments still centered on the sheer magnitude of it all:

  • “it would represent 15% of the world’s GDP”
  • “sensing every plant across the entire US agricultural industry reaches a trillion sensors”
  • “it requires IPv6 to even consider”
  • “it requires new standards for intercommunication and security”
  • “the issues of data silos will have to be re-thought”

And so on. And despite the fantastic topics, Janusz has to be given credit for organizing the talk and assembling the speakers, which provided at the least a chance for us to collectively discuss the improbable.

But as I sat there and listened to the discussions, I often listen to what is not being said – what are the tacit assumptions of the group – as much as what the presenters are saying, and something still bothers me: why is the assumption that the Internet of Things has to become the Internet of Everything?

CeNSE Image - HP

Central Nervous System for the Earth, from HP Labs presentation at the TSensors Summit, October 23-25 2013

Put another way, if I invest in putting sensors across my 1000 acres of farmland in central Wyoming, I don’t want that data connected to the worldwide anything – the data is mine, and I need to control it.

But why stop at the Internet of Farm, why not the Internet of the House, the Internet of the Car, the Internet of Me? And these mini or micro sensor webs are defined within the context of their own universe, individual Private Idahos of spatial reality which coexist with other sensor webs but are for all purposes ignorant of each other.

Maybe this is where we are all heading – our own iPhones become our body sensor servers and our iWatches or Jawbones become our new fingers or toes on our bodies. And true interactions with “outside” services? This is controlled by ourselves: we grant the special access to our sensor webs and decide how and when to share them.

In this light I definitely agree with Chris Pister who says that this makes the need for wireless security greater, not less: stronger controls are needed as the world gets more multidimensional. But the idea that a trillion sensors and a global sensory array will need complete interconnectivity (with unique IP addresses for every square centimeter on the planet) is really thinking in too planar a fashion. It’s a mosaic, and one that will continually fracture into finer and finer tessellations.

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