Humans have a multitude of senses. Sight, hearing, taste,  smell, and touch are the five traditionally recognized senses. People love to share their experiences in life – such as describing their recent trip to an exotic place, eating one of the best delicacies in town, watching latest movie, frustration in driving on a congested road, unpredictable weather and much more. Usually, they will describe these experiences with their close friends and families when they meet physically. That’s how we traditionally socialize. That was the pre-smartphone and pre-Internet days.

However, with the advent of computers, smartphones, and access to the Internet – everything has changed. The best way to substitute the physical contact and sharing is via the Internet. The ability to connect and share your experiences with your friends, families and even strangers have transformed the way we socialize.

Now we have various social media applications that will help to extend your five traditional senses to the next level via your smartphones. For example:

We checked-in to our favorite places with Swarm/Foursquare application and willingly share these check-ins with your contacts. This application uses a simple GPS (location) and camera (sight) to remind you of the places.

Instagram is regularly used by people who love to share photos (weirdly – food photos before their dinner or lunch). It’s more like your extended “eye” (camera) that capture moments in your life.

Twitter users love to tweet and to listen to other tweets. They are extending their “ears” to all the chats. This includes apps like WeChat and Whatsapp.

People want another channel to convey their frustrations, ideas, and feelings. These emotions are extended through Facebook.

Photos are captured, locations are geo-tagged and stored automatically using digital diaries such as Day One, HeyDay and Chronos. Lifeloggers love these apps because they wanted an easy way to recall all those memorable moments some day in the future.

Waze is another great example that helps users to share their traffic status, and in return, they will get the whole traffic status of the city that will help to ease their travel in choosing the right routes and the right time to travel.

So, what does all of the above got to do with Internet of Things (IOT)? As mentioned in my previous post, the smartphone is one of the best examples of an IOT device. It helps to extend the human senses. If things/devices are given the right sensors, they will be able to give the individual a better power to sense.

What if – we can have our home to sense smoke, motion, and sight. What if – we will be able to know the availability of car park of the places that we wanted to go. What if – we can monitor and control the usage of our building electricity? What if – we can track the whereabouts of our public transport such as buses, taxis or trains? What if – we have an extended “eye” that monitors the traffic condition of the city?

Thus, when people ask me this simple question – “What is Internet of Things?”, Rather than giving them a technical answer about the different sensors, wireless technologies, and big data analytics, I will start from why its very important to know the condition of your assets, what’s happening to the surrounding area of your interest and why the need to share that information. Later on, they will easily understand how we can extend our human senses via the concept of IOT.

In your case, how do you answer that basic question of “What is IOT?”. Where do you start?

About the Author

Dr. Mazlan Abbas is an IOT Evangelist, Thought Leader and CEO of REDtone IOT. You can reach him on LinkedIn at https://my.linkedin.com/in/mazlan/ or Twitter at http://twitter.com/mazlan_abbas . You can find MOST of the presentation slides HERE.
For further details, check out http://about.me/mazlan.abbas

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