Robert Scoble recently blogged that we were entering a new age of “context” characterised by a proliferation of always connected sensors, contextual SDKs and wearable computing.
But haven’t all the building blocks to a Web of Things been in place for a while? Tagging and connectivity tech like NFC chips, RFID and embedded controllers have plummeted in cost, bandwidth and computation capacity can be rented on demand from infrastructure players like AWS, and new inventions like printed circuit boards or white space radio spectrum have all been creating an uber-connected world where objects and machines and people can talk to each other. And of course the revolution in smart, mobile devices means we all have an always-on Web interface in our pockets to act as the controller for this connected physical/digital world.
On the other hand, while true that this technology is already out there, you could argue that its potential has been limited by communication capacity. Wi-fi is great when you can get it, but when you’re out and about you still rely on a cellular connection (the fact that cellular capacity is often off-loaded onto wi-fi networks is another story).
4G technology will change this. Not only can data be transmitted much faster with LTE (I’m sure you’ve all seen the demonstrations of Wi-Fi like speeds over cellular networks), but you can fit a lot more down the pipes.
Mobile network operators lost out on 3G. They paid extortionate amounts for licences, and then found themselves unable to monetize much of the content passing through their network.
4G represents an opportunity for them to get it right a second time. Mobile operators can sit at the heart of a connected home and play an important role in enabling a consumer’s digital life. Imagine your mobile network operator subscription bringing all of your physical stuff online too (with a little help from EVRYTHNG of course 😉 )
4G could bring network operators into the Web of Things game – bringing smart services that will enrich the lives of the consumer and delivering back a new and diverse revenue stream. All quite different from 3G – a halfway house technology which offered the full internet to consumers, but very little for operators.
If operators don’t capitalize on the 4G opportunity to offer true “connected living” Web of Things apps to consumers – helping make the case for a world of inter-connected things and people, then they will only have themselves to blame.
Although the even bigger strategic question is, will this stop me having to wander around central London waving my iPhone around like Harry Potter’s wand trying to catch a signal?