Let’s face it; Facebook has had better days. Whether it’s people flocking to other sites like Instagram or unfortunate live murders that have people calling Facebook a “21st Century Roman Colosseum of Murder,” the site is in a bind.
Things aren’t “women and children abandon ship” levels of bad yet of course. The site just reached the 1.2 billion user mark, which would put it on the same level as China or India in terms of popular if it were a country. Not everyone can claim that victory.
Still, you don’t need a fancy psychiatry degree and Freud’s glasses to see that the company is motived to avoid the purgatory of obsolescence that sites like Myspace, Ask Jeeves, and Yahoo… I mean AOL… I mean Oath… now occupy.
I’ve had an up and down relationship with Facebook that has partially been influenced by how much the company wants to sell my personal data (hint: it’s not worth much), but I see something exciting in their drive to survive.
Whether they grow to challenge Google for world domination or gently slip into that quiet night doesn’t matter, if Facebook continues in its current direction of vision and development, the Internet of Things as we know it will change.
It’s pretty clear that Facebook is to blame for much of what we appreciate or hate about social media these days. Even though they weren’t the first to the social media table, they have shaped it in many influential ways.
It has gone from being a college-focused social platform to an online empire that incorporates text, images, video, advertising, location-based services.
While they aren’t making the latest devices to connect to the Internet, they are researching and developing new avenues to advance the Internet of Things. More importantly, they’re putting a lot of this research to use.
One important example is their emergency communication system. Using mobile technology and virtual human interaction, they’ve developed a way to use their platform during and after natural disasters to identify potential victims and loved ones.
Sometimes, the company has borrowed ideas from other notable platforms, but more than anything else, it represents a largely successful, yet ongoing pursuit to integrate many different technologies into a comprehensive platform.
The Ten Year Plan
Most tech companies have no problem with dreaming big. For many of them, it’s the very reason why they are successful in the first place. If Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t have the “audacity” to virtually connect any and all information in the world, we wouldn’t have Google today.
In recent years, Facebook has rolled out its vision for the next ten years. Most of this plan is centered around “allowing anyone to share anything however they want.” In case you can’t tell, a lot of these visionary statements tend to be rather ambiguous.
While the exact meaning of this vision is unclear, Facebook has been focusing its efforts on several different areas. The plan itself is structured around several stages that begin with the Facebook ecosystem, expands to other apps is that they own or have a stake in, and then rockets off into the science-fiction future of robots and holograms.
AI, virtual/augmented reality and connecting more people to the Internet and their platform are the main areas that form the cornerstones of their plan.
Whether this plan will be ultimately successful or not is irrelevant. When it comes to new technologies and industries, it isn’t even really important who gets there first.
Take Apple, for example, who introduced an entirely new market space with the iPhone and iPad. Sure, they were praised for getting there first, but it’s not like they became a corporate immortal God. In recent years, the company has had to deal with the expectations of continued innovation.
Many companies who introduce a new technology even risk becoming a one hit wonder if they can’t continue to stay on top.
So even if Facebook ultimately fails, we can still expect some major changes to the IoT through the steps that they and others take on their march towards doom.
Human Machine Interfaces
It’s a pretty big claim to say that IoT will fundamentally be changed, especially when I still have to read IoT for Dummies just to get a sense of where it’s going. But there is a specific area where advancement is overdue: human-machine interfaces.
Right now, humans interface with the IoT through buttons, knobs, and graphic interfaces. Except for the technology that lets us awkwardly touch or yell at our devices, this tech hasn’t changed much since computers first arrived. We still consume info from a screen.
This is drastically different from the communication protocols electronics use to exchange information.
Facebook wants to change this with a brain interface. They want to develop a system that allows people to type just from the power of thought. This may seem all science fiction-like, but research in this area could very well change how we interact with technology.
Facebook’s plan will create a new control interface. The next step would be to allow information directly connect with the brain. In other words, let’s hook our brains up and download stuff directly.
Currently, our brains are limited in how they absorb information. We only have our main senses to connect us to this technological world. I don’t know about you, but my own senses tend to be rather dull and slow depending on the time of day and what I consume.
A brain interface would change all this. It would eliminate the middleman and hook us up directly to the IoT.
The applications would be extensive. From persons with disabilities to average folks, anyone with a head would be eligible. Surf the web with your mind, write a paper with your thoughts, download the NSFW stuff you prefer directly into your brain, it would all be possible.
In the future, we may be connected in a similar way to the IoT like other devices. Hopefully this won’t lead to some future dystopia where we have all turn into the Borg from Star Trek. My skin and brain couldn’t handle the look.
The Future of the Internet of Things
While Facebook continues to swim in its struggled existence, it’s important not to ignore the implications its future plans may hold for the rest of us. The research alone is going to propel technology into a place where our interaction with computers is fundamentally altered.
Most importantly, they aren’t alone. A brain interface is an idea several companies are currently researching.
Perhaps, one day, we will all be a part of the Internet of Things. Time will tell, but it’s a safe bet that how we see IoT today is going to change as time goes on.