The Internet of Things isn't going to happen until people stop saying it's about to happen
Here's a new rule for anyone following the news coming from CES: if someone tries to convince you this is the year for any kind of new tech, they're wrong.
This year, like other years before it, is supposed to be the year of the Internet of Things. (Or the smart home, or connected devices, or whatever you want to call appliances and gizmos with Internet-enabled features tacked on to their normal, everyday functions.)
It's not going to be the year for the Internet of Things. Maybe it will be the year a few more products like the Nest thermostat or SmartThings hub become popular, but it won't be the year our washers, light bulbs, and other mundanities are replaced with "smart" successors.
In fact, I doubt Internet-connected devices will become popular in a single year. They'll replace their unconnected predecessors one broken appliance at a time, and that means many consumers won't connect a meaningful number of items to the Internet for years.
Which isn't to say there aren't some interesting gadgets at CES this year. Honeywell's new home security system is nifty, the Parrot Pot might convince me to give this "gardening" thing a try, and Samsung's ambitious plan for the Internet of Things is worth watching.
But the connected future won't result from a few intriguing products being launched at an expo known for hosting copious amounts of vaporware. Companies will need to sell many connected devices at once; then consumers can buy them, piecemeal, as needed.
When the majority of the objects in our homes are connected to the Internet it will seem strange that people got by without smart products. Purchasing them will seem normal, at least partly because companies will no longer ship products without Internet connectivity.
In other words, the Internet of Things won't have made it until no one talks about their predictions for when it's going to make it. Connected devices will just be the norm.
[illustration by Brad Jonas]