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Google exec shares insights on IoT, wearables

Posted: 02 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Google? Colt McAnlis? IoT? wearable? network?

EDN: Do consumers really care about IoT? Aren't they just more interested in why that smartwatch is so ugly, big, expensive, etc.? How can designers stay ahead of consumer expectations?

McAnlis: Like most technological adoption, the average consumer won't start caring about the technology in-particular; rather they will care about how it starts influencing their daily lives. Until then, it's pretty easy to see that the early adoption trend for IoT will be huge in the manufacturing/retail space, which is where most consumers will first be exposed to the concepts. This is the classic IoT scenario, where a consumer can walk up to a movie poster, and when they glance at their phone, all the show-times are listed already. It's that type of interface between the location-aware content and human device, which should get consumers interested in these types of things. Once their primary device starts humming along with useful communications to the device-world around them, it'll start making more sense. There might even be some point in the future that purchasing decisions will be made based upon if something is IoT enabled or not (like your Pop-Tart box, because it always seems like you have infinite Pop-Tarts, or just an empty box in your cupboard...we need to fix this...).

And designers really don't have to change much. The goal of every technological adoption is straightforward: Be as useful as possible to the most people possible.

EDN: What new materials/technologies are the ones to watch for enabling IoT devices and networks?

McAnlis: It's really exciting to see the recent boom of battery technologies that have been announced in the past month or so. It doesn't make sense to have an IoT where 20,000 devices need to be plugged in. Sure long-form wireless charging could get us closer to that goal, but then we have the whole "will this fry my dog's brain" debate (I know Nikola Tesla did early research to show it wouldn't...but there's some questions about how that scales to seven billion devices). So for at least the short-term, IoT will be reliant ("shackled" might be a better word?) on portable battery solutions. Deep extensions to that technology will allow more powerful devices (think media rich) with longer life spans. This will be key for manufacturers to get IoT functionality into their products (smart pop-tart boxes) since in those form-factors, battery replacement probability will be low, yet life-span might be high.

EDN: In the heady excitement of IoT, what are we forgetting? Missing? At risk of royally messing up?

McAnlis: Oh...you're tricky...I see what you're doing there...Trying to get me to divulge all the content of my soon-to-be famous ARM keynote (or is it already famous? depends on when you're reading this...). Well, I will not be tricked so easily! Just like everyone else, you're going to have to attend the talk to hear war stories about the difficulties that IoT is going to have with respect to battery life, data sizes and networking constraints. It's easy to see how the first few generations of IoT adoption is going to be really constrained by battery woes, which will cause these devices to be much less consumer friendly. Really, until the threshold of media-rich usefulness happens, IoT may not be more than a novelty fad. Although for that to occur, we need to consider how much overhead that data transference is going to take, which will hopefully generate a new boom in data compression needs at the hardware level. But perhaps I've said too much already...

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