Internet will vanish in ten years, claims Roope Mokka from Demos Helsinki in Tivi’s interview from last September. At the beginning of 2015, the chairman and ex-CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt said the same thing during a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. What is going on? Will I have time to post my status to social media on New Year’s Eve 2025?
In future visions all the objects around us are connected to internet and they have sensors collecting data. The phenomenon is known as Internet of Things (IoT). IoT will make it possible for us to effectively do things and use objects. No need to check all the solar panels on the roof – they will let you know which one needs to be repaired. Don’t worry about choosing the quickest way, since self-driving cars will always choose the best route calculating the traffic jams, road works, and weather. Internet will be all around us wherever we go. So yes, in a way internet will disappear – from our immediate gaze. It will become as natural as the steel structures of the houses, which were cutting edge innovations of their time. You don’t really consider them to be technology anymore, do you?
So what do the objects do with their sensors and internet connections? In the latest issue of Image, Oskari Onninen writes that usually consultants simplify IoT in an example of a smart fridge and smart toaster talking to each other. In fact, there’s a lot more to it. The sensors of the fridge and the rest of the equipment at your home collect data about everything they monitor. This data will be measured and analysed.
Those companies who understand how to take that information as part of their business strategy, will prosper. Better yet, companies that find new and original ways to provide the service needed, like Uber is doing to the business of getting customers from place A to place B. What’s more, you might not need money to buy services. Perhaps you’ll get that fridge or personal gene-based diet recommendations and recipes for free. In exchange, you only give the service provider data of your routines. Also known as your privacy.
So when will my home be attached to the internet so thoroughly I won’t even notice it? Quite soon. One challenge to solve before that is related to energy and our planetary boundaries. All the objects and their sensors cannot be attached to grid or traditional energy sources. Instead, they must do their own energy harvesting, get power from solar panels or even vibrations. Digitalisation and smarter energy solutions bring different fields of business closer to each other. The distinctions between sectors get blurred. The Naked Approach consortium sees construction sites building their own solar panels and IT companies selling their generated heat. At the SHIFT we wish to see beginnings or even shy promises on collaboration between health, learning, and energy.
As said, in future Internet will become as natural as the air we breathe and we won’t even think about it. In two month’s time, the SHIFT will bring to the medieval castle the hottest technologies of today, which still sound science fiction to some people. I’m talking about virtual and augmented reality. Will they be a norm in ten years time or sooner? What will be the hottest new technology in 2025? What’s your wild guess?
Demos Helsinki is a partner of the SHIFT.