I, Robot

I, RobotI

How the Internet of Things will free us

Salvador Dalí, in his home on the Costa Brava, installed a unique feature: a mirror mounted at a specific angle on the wall of his bedroom. It wasn’t so he could see himself in the morning, brush his teeth at night, or fret over some ostentatious outfit. It was so that, when the sun rose, its light would reflect into his face, and he would be the first Spaniard in Spain to see it. He tailored the space around him to suit his perspective, his ideal vision of what his home and life should look like.

That’s what the Internet of Things (IoT) will let us all do. In the same way that social media is a mirror of our perceptions of self, the Internet of Things will be a reflection of our preferences, choices, and lifestyle.

The commute, shopping for food, cleaning – all the chores that make up a human life seem insignificant to our vision of ourselves – are mundane. The mundane threatens us, reminds us that beneath our aspirations is the reality we live in. 

And this is where the IoT picks up the slack. Beyond the buzzword, it’s not only a revolution but an exercise in projection. In the same way that media is a mirror to our perceptions of self, IoT tech will be a reflection of our preferences and choices.

An often-given example of convenience is the auto-filling fridge. You curate your preferences for your food and drink staples, and by scanning these products in, or using pattern-recognition technology, your fridge learns what you keep in, and at what levels. It then orders from Amazon pantry or any number of other services that deliver food to your doorstep. 

IoT has also proven to be a natural partner in PropTech initiatives. In my experience as CEO and founder of an IoT security and property technology company, I find that most people associate security in IoT with control in a chaotic world. IoT security means control over who can access your space, when they are allowed to, and how. 

We use devices like fingerprint scanners and digital keys in our products to provide this. In the context of PropTech, this means smart locks can integrate with PropTech management platforms to allow custom entry protocols, control of access periods, and remote property monitoring.

But when we think about the broader IoT, we tend to consider the ‘convenient’ aspects of the concept. We reference it in the same tone we might use to say ‘oh, that’s neat’ – and that’s it. And yes, it is ‘neat,’ but we need to consider it more deeply than that.

The point is this: we can quantify our personality, return meaningful metrics that allow us to view it as something physical, tangible, and changeable from a top-down perspective.

It’s a fundamental shift in design – an unconscious upturn in the power of the consumer. Generalizing can become a thing of the past as the users of products dictate their bespoke worlds, in the home and out of it, intentionally and otherwise. It’s the logical next step for consumer-oriented products.

The more we work, the less time we have to shape, reflect, and mold ourselves. Time is currency and not just in the way of the analogy that ‘time is money – we have always ‘spent our time’ on tasks.’ That time can now be analyzed, broken down into approximations of how, why, and when we do things, and then planned and accounted for. 

It just comes down to one simple idea: If we’re all busy, then why shouldn’t our time work for us?

About the Author

Lee Zheng is the founder and CEO of Lockly, a smart lock start-up out of Silicon Valley. His locks have been recognized by CES as an honouree and the HKEIA as a winner, twice. Lee holds a BA in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from UC Berkeley and an MBA from UC Davis. His greatest wish is to break through the Kármán line. 

lockly.com

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