The report, part of Pew’s ongoing Internet Project, takes an in-depth look at the future of “Internet of Things,” and found most experts (83 percent of the 1,600 polled) agree that embedded computing “will have widespread and beneficial effects by 2025.”
“As devices become smaller, lower power, and easier to interact with, the effect will be pervasive,” Joel Halpern, an engineer at Ericsson, said in the report. “The environment itself will be studded with sensors that can provide accurate and useful information. People moving through the environment will find it easy to find information, objects, people, and situations of interest. This is likely to result in far more efficient resource utilization and far more robust environments.”
“The Internet of Things,” has certainly already made a mark on the technology landscape, whether it’s Google’s high-tech specs, Nest’s home monitoring systems or FitBit’s activity trackers. But though a majority of experts believe we’ll eventually be more connected to each other and the Internet than ever, there are certainly hurdles to overcome before most of us adapt.
“The future of wearables is in the awkward adolescent stage,” said Ian O’Byrne, an assistant professor at the University of New Haven. “I have a feeling we’ll be here for awhile. At some point, a product will come out that ‘just makes sense,’ and people will flock to have and use it. Until then, we’re all busy carrying around our Palm Treo…. I mean Google Glass.”
Some of the experts and innovators interviewed by Pew downplayed the effect that wearables and connected devices will have.
“The relationship between humans and their environments has not changed as much as one would expect, given the ubiquity of computers and networks,” said John E. Savage, chair in computer science at Brown University. “The Internet of Things will have an impact on daily life, but it will not be a revolutionary one.”
And of course, there will be ongoing issues and concerns about privacy.
“The danger will be in loss of privacy and the reduction of people into numbers: the dark side of the quantified self….,” said Andrew Chen, associate professor of computer science at Minnesota State University Moorhead. “‘Subliminal advertising’ will take on a whole new meaning when it can invade your thoughts through what you wear.”