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The Confusion of Things – IoT Tower of Babel

confusion of things

Confusion of Things is perhaps the best way to describe our place in the journey towards the Internet of Everything.

Confusion in the Internet of Things is reaching proportions that are almost Biblical. According to the Tower of Babel and other similar narratives, God got upset with Man. He “confounded their speech so that they could no longer understand each other and scattered them around the world.” Thus, the story goes, we have no common language on Earth.

On the other hand, if you believe that language is socially rather than divinely created, culturally differentiated languages make sense. And so does the Confusion of Things, at least at this point in IoT evolution. Nature and society work by conducting experiments and keeping the changes that have the best fit. But there is a difference between natural and social evolution. In the latter, we can make purposeful choices.

The question boils down to how we shape the experiments and choices. How much do we rely on open standards and common technologies, versus proprietary methods that do not inter-operate?

Confusion of Things at every level of the IoT Stack

The main question for vendors is how and where they benefit from being proprietary versus open? The main question for consumers is around how to easily install and use their “things”.  There are a variety of connectivity and communication models in use. Connectivity is mainly wireless, but there are many forms of wireless including WiFi, Bluetooth, and Cellular. There are many types of networks. You will be hearing new terminologies by the bushel, including body area networks, personal area networks, home area networks, etc. Each can enable device-to-device and device-to-cloud communications. They may do so directly, or through gateways. The big push right now is to dominate the device-to-gateway space. For some scenarios, the smart phone is a great gateway, which can link your wearable or home area devices to the cloud. For other scenarios, a home area gateway for IoT makes sense, if only to handle the IPV4-to-IPV6 conversions.

Keep these things in mind as you experiment with IoT and the current confusion of things.


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