Last century I was an analyst at Forrester Research at a time when the firm was just getting started, employed about a dozen analysts, and had an office above the HMV Record store in Harvard Square. I dare say that there are probably readers who do not remember HMV – or records for that matter. This job at Forrester was the transformative period in my career when I learned how markets and technology really worked.
George Colony (the CEO and Founder of Forrester) had a very proscribed way of thinking and writing about technology. Besides making sure to use the Oxford comma and shun contractions, analysts at Forrester are trained to not just analyze technology but to project how it will change the world – What it Means or WIM.
In 1996, I was assigned (as the Internet Networking analyst) to write a report about IPv6. In the report, I predicted that IPv6 would completely eclipse IPv4 by the year 2000 – this has still not happened. But, when I was asked “WIM” about IPv6, I predicted something I called “Body LAN” where everyone had various gadgets on his/her body and each had an IP address and was connected wirelessly to each other and the Internet.
What is the point of this story – besides my having missed the opportunity to invent the FitBit? The recent Internet of Things frenzy is a long time in the making. Talking about the possibility of a technology does not necessarily make it ubiquitous or commonplace.
That said, there have been several technology advances that make the Internet of Things more likely now than two decades ago – cheaper and faster processing, ubiquitous networking, and open development stacks. However, much is left to do before the Internet of Things is more than a collection of siloed, IP-addressed objects. My networked fridge, on-line bike power monitor, wireless scale, and intelligent lights are each pretty cool in their own right. But what if they all shared their data? My fridge, deciding that I had been working long hours and not training enough, might prompt me to watch my calorie count, while the lights in my office could shift their color temperature to keep me alert and focused.
At Digital Lumens, we are making lights intelligent in their own right, as well as integrating this intelligence with other “things.” Lighting is going to be a major player in the Internet of Things. When I calculate the LED adoption curve (including those with intelligent controls) and overlay these numbers with the growth of Intelligent Things (this time by Gartner), a case can be easily made that lights represent 5% to 10% of all intelligent things by 2020. Makes sense. You can only have one FitBit, but the average home has 42 light bulbs and the ratio of lights to employees at the DL office is about four to one – and up to ten to one in most of our industrial customers.
What it means is that intelligent lights – or the Internet of Lights — are a force to be reckoned with in the IoT. And best of all, the Internet of Lights will pay for itself on energy and maintenance savings alone – more on that in my next blog.