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The Internet of Things- “Sensing” Something Big

May 24, 2012

Sensors are all around us and have been for generations.

What’s different now is that they are increasingly being connected to the web and aggregated in real time to do cool things.  Several months ago we passed along this blog,  Mike and Roger’s Hypernet Blog which describes this phenomenon as well as the opportunities it represents.  The concept has also been called “the Internet of Things”.  Here is a good piece from McKinsey and here is another from the Financial Times.

LaunchPad is involved in an “Internet of Things” project in at the intersection of social, mobile and amateur sports.  So we thought we’d pass along some of the brave new world  we’ve been discovering.

Whether sensors in our smart phones that connect us to contribute to or  receive from the Hypernet, or a growing range of devices that are now available to help transform our world into complete monitorability– the Hypernet teeming with activity.  In fact, the graphic below vividly illustrates the rate at which ‘things’ are being connected to the web.  Click on it to see the entire infographic.

Our homes and vehicles are the first stop in the evolutionary journey of the Internet of Things.   Commercial products like Cars and TVs are now coming off assembly lines web-connected.  And appliances are soon to follow.  But perhaps the most interesting development has been the range of offerings coming out on Kickstarter allowing the technically inclined to set up their own internet of things.   It seems like we are in the early days of Apple and Microsoft where the Do-It-Yourselfers are the first movers in an exciting market that is poised for hypergrowth limited only by the imaginative ways we can solve problems by connecting things to the web.   Here’s a quick rundown.

Twine-    From their Kickstarter page- “Twine is the simplest possible way to get the objects in your life texting, tweeting or emailing. A durable 2.5″ square provides WiFi connectivity, internal and external sensors, and two AAA batteries that keep it running for months. A simple web app allows to you quickly set up your Twine with human-friendly rules — no programming needed. And if you’re more adventurous, you can connect your own sensors and use HTTP to have Twine send data to your own app.

Twine lets you create Internet-connected systems and objects anywhere you have WiFi. Compact, low-power hardware and real-time web software work together to make networked physical computing simple and versatile.”

Ninja Blocks –From their website- “Little computerized ninjas ready to do your bidding.  Well trained, obedient and ubiquitous, they deliver messages, protect your valuables, and make your life more convenient. Lego® for Life, Ninja Blocks connect your things. They are simple but powerful little computers. Plug in sensors to monitor things like temperature, motion, light. Plug in actuators to make stuff happen, like turning devices on or taking pictures.”

Electric Imp –  These guys appear to be going the OEM route out of the gate.   “The Imp uses WiFi and a cloud service to make it easier than ever before for vendors to internet-enable their products, bringing the power of the internet to places and devices it could never reach before.  Developer preview Imps and developer kits will be available beginning in late June, 2012.  Imp-enabled products will be available later in 2012 from a variety of vendors.  The Imp card itself will retail for $25. Discounted cards for bundling are available to manufacturers.”

Knut-  From Knut’s Kickstarter page,   “Knut is a small, battery powered, Wi-Fi enabled sensor hub that enables you to monitor your environment in near real time.  Knut can be used to:

  • Monitor the temperature of your home or aquarium
  • Monitor the humidity in your basement or cigar collection
  • Tell if someone has opened your liquor cabinet or refrigerator door
  • Measure how much vibration a package experiences during shipping
  • Thousand more uses that we haven’t imagined yet – but you will”

Wovyn – From their Kickstarter page, “The future isn’t about the “Internet of Thing” … its the “Internet of ThingS”!  Plural!  Multiple!  And we’ve designed Wovyn to be exactly that.  Wovyn is an extensible solution that lets you add numerous sensors – up to 50 of them per gateway – of all different types.  And then to create rules of all kinds that can notify you … or push their data into any software you want that might do even more complex things.”



Then there are the full computers coming on the market for $50 – $100.   This week this  little beauty was announced, an Android-based computer priced at $50.   And there are others, here and here.    Having full-blown PC firepower for an Internet of Things play may or may not be overkill.  But it certainly offers a wide array of flexibility to solve most any viewing and/or monitoring challenge.

We believe we are only at the top of the first inning in this incredible hypernet game.  Stay tuned as the game unfolds.

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