What’s Driving IOT and Organizing the Exploding List of Enchanted Objects

By David Rose

Figure 1. A Periodic Table of Enchanted Objects
Figure 1. A Periodic Table of Enchanted Objects
What’s Driving IoT?

I’m often asked, What will drive the adoption of the Internet of Things? My answer is three very different industries with three different motivations:

1) Self-funding business models driven by behavioral change

Enchanted objects make data-gathering passive and data-display pervasive. This tends to either accelerate consumption behavior, as in pills or content, or reduce care costs, as in healthcare or the care of capital assets like cars and appliances.

2) Connected hardware companies and telcos who sponsor and promote enchanted objects

Telcos like AT&T, Verizon, Orange, and others measure their success with the KPI of average revenue per user (ARPU). Each new connected thing gives them the ability to increase this metric with new monthly service fees or bundled family plans.

Consumer electronics makers like Samsung, Nokia, and Apple also benefit from enchanted objects because it represents a new product category that people will buy and upgrade in addition, and in parallel, to smartphones and tablets. Witness Samsung’s accession of SmartThings.

Notably, neither the telcos nor classic consumer electronics makers participate in advertising revenue, which is growing the coffers of Google, Apple, and Facebook.

3) Product companies craving differentiation

Pity the furniture companies and makers of shoes, hats, kitchen appliances, faucets, lighting, jewelry, etc.. These categories compete purely on commoditized features like color, material, and style. If you are a watch-maker or woman’s handbag maker your styles are copied by your competitors before they arrive in stores because the network of manufactures and retail sales reps trade information.

I predict these traditional inert product companies will start to aggressively use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to test (or copy) ideas for enchanted objects. And you probably won’t notice it. They will use covert names to shield their identity and risk to test new ideas and garner early market feedback (think Clarol’s covert Origins brand or Budweiser’s fake local craft brew RedDog).

Google has the most to lose from Enchanted Objects

Resistance to enchanted object adoption will be led by the those who benefit most from ad networks. Most enchanted objects play in the design space of color, sound, haptics, and shape-shifting materials. The ad units simply don’t exist for these media. Companies like Google and Facebook who increasingly rely on advertising revenue will find themselves without a stake in the growth of Enchanted Objects.

Organizing the Exploding List of Enchanted Objects

One of the biggest challenges of writing Enchanted Objects was organizing the ever-growing list of enchanted objects. Since I argue that we find these objects enticing due to our innate psychological needs, it seemed most logical way to organize them by universal human drives. These drives have animated my own research—they are the fundamental human behaviors that make us tick, and they deserve the primary focus of product designers, technologists, and entrepreneurs.

  • Omniscience. The desire to be all-knowing.
  • Telepathy. The desire for human connection.
  • Safekeeping. The desire to be protected.
  • Immortality. The desire to be healthy, strong, fully capable, and vital.
  • Teleportation. The desire to live unconstrained by physical limits.
  • Expression. The desire to create, make, and play in every form and media.

Using this structure, I worked with Chris McRobbie to make icons out of the 50+ internet-connected things covered in the book–a Periodic Table, if you will, of Enchanted Objects. Each object meets a fundamental desire in a surprising, magical way. As you look at the wide array of enchanted every-day items, which would most satisfy your own needs? Which are the most generally useful? Which are the most groundbreaking? What’s the next everyday thing that should become enchanted, or that you will enchant?

Editor’s Note: The content for this article is reprinted by permission of STC’s 2016 Summit Keynote Speaker David Rose from his blog http://enchantedobjects.com/.

DAVID ROSE is an award-winning entrepreneur, author, and instructor at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on making the physical environment an interface to digital information. David is the CEO at Ditto Labs an image-recognition software platform, which scours social media photos to find brands and products. His new book, Enchanted Objects, focuses on the future of the Internet of Things, and how these technologies will impact the ways we live and work. His work has been featured at the MoMAcovered in The New York Times, WIRED, The Economist, and parodied on the Colbert Report.