Eventually, we will digitize our bodies, information and objects; creating a network of everything in the world. All of the information in the world is digitized, the next step is to digitize our objects to create the Internet of Things. The concept of the Internet of Things was popularized by RFID's helping manage Inventory flows, but that is just the surface of a far more fascinating application of technology.
Objects can now connect themselves to the Internet. Cisco Software estimates that as of July 29th, 2013 there are 8.7 billion connected objects, or 0.6% of all objects in the world. Embedded sensors and actuators allow them to sense, communicate and adjust to the environment. Objects are able to register and report pain, communicate and respond to humans and other objects.
The following are some examples of how these connected objects, the Internet of Things, will impact our world.
Self-driving cars are one of the most exciting possibilities. Someday every person will be a passenger and trucks can be passenger-less. Using a variety of sensors, computers, satellite connections and cameras cars and trucks will drive themselves, and make adjusts based on weather conditions, traffic patterns and vehicle location. Cars and trucks will drive more efficiently because they will monitor the entire network: every car, every construction crew, every emergency, and weather conditions. The increased efficiency will allow for higher speeds, fewer accidents, and increase the capacity of our current roads.
Once objects know how much they are being used, companies can change their pricing. Instead of selling products companies can charge by how much an object is being used. For example, General Electric retains ownership of their jet engines and charge airlines for the amount of thrust used. Electric companies have moved to a dynamic pricing model based on how much it costs to generate each kilowatt, instead of a flat monthly rate.
Connected objects are starting to specialize in providing certain services, and never get tired of helping. For example, University weight rooms now have automated trainers, in the form of cameras and sensors. They monitor athletes, monitoring form, making recommendations about form weight and repetitions, and reporting sets and repetitions to the coach.