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Developing a Smarter Internet of Things

The idea of a house that responds to commands through high technology has been bouncing around for nearly a century. Mainly a sci-fi trope, the possibility of realizing such a house has become more likely with the development of wireless technology and the internet of things (IoT). For those unfamiliar with the term, the IoT represents everyday objects that are connected to the web via sensors, chips or some other bit of technology.

These objects can track user data (such as how many times you actually hit the fridge at 3 a.m.) and, increasingly, have interactive elements. Gestures and voice commands may eventually allow you to turn on the TV, turn off the lights and so forth. A MIT Media Lab group called the Fluid Interfaces Group isn’t sure that’s the best idea. They contend that much of human interaction is based on touch, and a lack of muscle memory involved in physically interacting with objects could have a negative long-term impact.

MIT's Smarter Objects Project

This AR digital lock is a good example of the Smarter Objects system at work. Courtesy of Fluid Interfaces Group.

The system the Fluid Interfaces Group is working on is named Smarter Objects. In place of gestures and voice commands, the Smarter Objects system uses augmented reality (AR) to provide a modicum or physical interaction. The system also “programs” objects to interact digitally to physical interactions when operated in tandem with the system.

As a user points a smart phone or tablet at a physical object, an augmented reality (AR) application recognizes the object and offers an intuitive graphical interface to program the object’s behavior and interactions with other objects. Once reprogrammed, the Smarter Object can then be operated with a simple tangible interface (such as knobs, buttons, etc). As such Smarter Objects combine the adaptability of digital objects with the simple tangible interface of a physical object. –“Smarter Objects: Using AR technology to Program Physical Objects and their Interactions.”

One example of the system at work is programming a door with a touch combination lock that responds to AR controls. Never lock yourself out of the house or car again. A radio could switch back and forth between Pandora and your local stations with the right hardware and a few tweaks from the Smarter Objects system.

Below you’ll find a TED video that talks about the IoT.

Source: Fluid Interfaces Group

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