The combination of objects with social media leads the Internet of things to a new dimension where the objects that surround us, as well as being smart, can be social. See the real case of a book.
We talk about the Internet of things to refer to everyday objects equipped with sensors that analyze their environment, integrated into an information network through which they communicate with other objects by exchanging information.
For example, imagine that you have a fridge with a sensor that detects when food is scarce. When you take the last bottle of milk out of the fridge, the fridge detects the lack of milk and automatically communicates with the store to order more milk.
The Internet of Things digitizes reality, i.e. converts the objects and events into bytes that can be translated into data which, in its turn, generate information. The digitization of reality, then, allows us to reach a detailed understanding of complex phenomena.
It is from this perspective that the expression “if you’re not on the Internet, you don’t exist” takes on its full meaning. Only by digitizing things we are able to perceive them (in a certain sense), to receive information. Internet thus becomes a parallel reality that can be accessed through portals (computers).
Given the growing need for access to this digital reality from anywhere and at any time, these portals have become mobile (phones and tablets), as an appendix that, in my opinion, won’t be needed in the future because things will be a portal themselves.
But the Internet success is not based solely on its ability to translate things to measurable information. Its popularization came with its socialization, that is, with the advent of social media. And if the Internet has managed to make things smart, social media will make them social.
Let’s see a real example.
A few days ago, walking through a bookstore, I noticed a book entitled “Trabaja con red” (Work with network) by Juan Merodio. On the back cover there was a QR code on which was written “video of the author”. I put my phone over the code and I was directed to a video on YouTube where, in little more than a minute, the author explained what information could be found in his book.
Flipping through the book, I noticed that at the end of each chapter there was another QR code that led me to a 1-minute video where the author presented the main conclusions on each issue.
The book also had its own group on LinkedIn and on the website devoted to the book there were some tweets from readers. The only thing that was missing was an official hashtag so that readers could exchange comments.
The other books, once they are sold, disappear. This book, however, has come alive when I’ve accessed digital reality. The feeling of being able to interact with the book, with the author and other readers through social media, is like going from a flat world to a 3D world.
Though social media may be fascinating, it is just a tool. The greatness of social media arises when it is combined with real things to bring them to a new dimension.
This makes us see that the true innovations do not appear with the emergence of new tools, but with the emergence of new uses.
Two millennia before the industrial revolution, the ancient Greeks invented the steam engine, but no one understood its practical use and they used it as a toy. It wasn’t until the 17th century when it was used as a driving force for industrial use. That’s when the real innovation emerged.
When companies began to access social media, they used it in the only way they knew, that is, to promote their products as they did with catalogs or ads. It is only now that some companies begin to use it to interact with customers, create content or generate reputation.
Returning to the book, with this new use, social media have launched a true innovation. The Internet of things has become social.