Smart Homes, smart cities, smart people. The Internet of Things.

The fridge calls your mobile and alerts you that you are out of milk. Doors open and close automatically as you go in and out. The alarm clock starts your coffee machine. Car engines start as you get ready for work. City wide wifi allows instant access anytime, anywhere. It's a brave new world with IOT – the Internet of Things. 

In this new era of machine-to-machine conversations, how are humans going to be smart? Is the automation of every day tasks going to make us dumber or smarter? And how is big data going to play in this new field – gathering and translating machine interactions to human solutions? In this super connected world, it's real value, real use that is going to make the difference. We'll need some really smart humans to figure out how to best use these smart machines, live in smart homes, built in smart cities.

Combine IOT with Wearable and we have an ocean of possibilities. Because wearable is wherever-able and whenever-able, and the Internet of Things allowing machines to interface with it at any time, we'll have a whole new way of living smart. But what does that mean in the long term? Rapid adoption of wearable technology will help towards this move towards all-things-smart, and when the data or information coming out of wearable and things combine and collaborate that we will have real benefit.

It is really all about data. And data - to be made relevant and useful is all about converting numbers and facts into insight. Insight about people. Businesses and brands will need to really focus on how to use data to speak to, rather communicate, with people. The end game is the human. Machines talking to each other for human benefit, to create value. Otherwise it's just rocket science without lift-off.

If accidents can be prevented, because your car knows that your brake pads are really unable to enforce a stop within a few meters that's useful. If flight delays can be averted, lost luggage auto-tracked, that's clever. If your coffee machine calls your mobile to say 'Coffee is ready' while you are in the shower – that's, kinda, dumb.

Cisco is one of the key players in this IOT game. About 50 billion machines and devices could be linked by 2020, according to Cisco Systems. IOT enabled devices are 'already being used, for example, to check soil moisture in vineyards, control the carbon emission of factories, alert drivers to traffic jams, and monitor patients’ blood pressure—all without human intervention'.

I understand this emphasis on 'without human intervention' – that is what makes machines or things smart, connected and useful. But the pot of gold at the end remains human use. And how will those of us in advertising and marketing use IOT? 

What if your Nespresso coffee machine recognized that it was a weekend and on weekends you prefer a Ristretto rather than a Roma and auto-popped the capsule in and had coffee ready not at a wee early hour but a lazier 11am perhaps? What if your fridge alert on 'Out-of-Milk' would only buzz when you were near a Carrefour hypermarket, say? These value adds would incentivize consumers to choose between one service (or product) and another dumb one. 

And what would be chilling is if the machines would make these decisions all by them selves, based either on data gathered on your habits or via pre-programmed marketing pushes. Now, that would be scary and smart all at the same time.

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