You’ve likely said goodbye to your desktop computer already. Many are starting to say good bye to notebook computers. Are Slates and phones the next computing devices that you’ll say goodbye to?
It is unlikely phones and slates will go away; however, it is likely that you’ll be saying hello to a slew of other computing devices that you might not have thought about in the past. If you are not familiar with the term “Internet of Things” (IoT), then as a developer you should look up from your IDE and take a look around. Just as the cloud and mobile are now impacting a lot of developers, so could IoT in the very near future.
My Past Rants on Screen Size
Many years ago I started saying that a developer, you should stop focusing on the monitor in front of you and realize that there are screens of various sizes that could be used to access your application. Today there are all of the devices I’ve mentioned above with varying screen resolutions. Responsive design and other practices have become mainstream. As a developer, you are hopefully separated your views from your logic and allowed your apps to adapt to the different platforms and screen resolutions. With future screens quadrupling pixel resolutions, this could become even more critical in the future.
The IoT and Screen Size
Of course, today I take a new stance of saying developers need to step even farther out of the box when considering solutions. It is time to stop assuming that your solution needs a screen – or at least a localized screen. With the changes in technologies, it is easy to build an application in a device and not worry about an actual screen. How is this possible? Consider today’s connectivity and the availability of technologies such as Wi-Fi in televisions.
Consider an example. This past year, there were numerous wearable computing devices that hit the market. One such device is the FitBit, which has a couple of lights on it, but otherwise, is a device that you simply wear around your wrist. There are other FitBit related devices that you can attach to your shirt or a button. A device like a FitBit has a lot of code within it. That code can tap sensors such as an accelerometers, communications, and more. The device, however, has no actual screen. Granted, there is an application that associates to the device, but that is a secondary application. The FitBit itself does not display the information itself beyond a few lights.
With the Internet, the cloud, and the changing types of communication, new possibilities are happening. When you add in Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications at the application level, you begin to realize that an application can be written to server other applications without ever interacting with a display screen for humans. The communication and connectivity can all happen “behind the scene” so to speak.
Related to this, there is another change, however, that I believe will impact the value of these screenless applications and devices. The addition of Wi-Fi to televisions makes it possible for every Wi-Fi television to be the monitor for your application. Companies like Intel and Qualcomm are building processors that are starting to appear in televisions. These components include WiFi abilities so that you can connect to the television without wires. All of the sudden this opens up the possibility of computer devices within your house being able to display information to your television set.
With the IoT and the ability of the television to receive Wi-Fi, all of the sudden, new possibilities open up. Consider how you could start computerizing everything in your house. Add a chip with a little program you write. Let your program send the data and relevant information to the internet where other applications you (or others) build can access it. If you need to display information from your solution, consider using Wi-Fi to display on a television or monitor. When you start taking these possibilities into consideration, what types of applications can you start building?
Monitors that aren’t just Monitors
Of course, monitors aren’t going to simply go away. It is time to start rethinking monitors as well. Disney has done this with their Magic Glass. All of the sudden, what seems to be a mirror has become a display for a unique application. That mirror allows a person (a child in this case) to try on outfits to see how they look without actually trying on any outfits. I’ve included a video of this below of this interface. I recently saw this in action, and it works. You can search for Magic Glass and you’ll find other similar programs being created for changing rooms that let people see how clothes look as well.
The bottom line is that the world continues to change. With Wi-Fi in televisions combined with the Internet of Things, it is now a better time than ever to think outside of the box when it comes to building solutions for your business users. Most developers are thinking “Desktop, web, or mobile”. The platforms to target might actually be none of those. It might be a mirror, a wrist band, or something yet not yet considered. In 2013 we started seeing this with things like Disney’s Magic Bands, Disney’s Magic Mirror and even things like the FitBit. 2014 promises to be an interesting year when it comes to seeing some new interesting solutions!
If you think I’m crazy, consider the fact that Google just spent billions on a company that is associated to Internet of Things. In this case, the automation is in home thermostats, smoke alarms and other such devices. It’s already happening!
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