Proliferating Internet-connected animals and inanimate objects might not come as a shock to anyone who has ever checked Twitter from their refrigerator, or set up a Facebook profile for their dog.
But to Dave Evans, chief futurist for network equipment maker Cisco Systems Inc., the fact that things have been outnumbering people online since last year represents the first true evolution of the Internet since the instant communication network was first created.
“We’re seeing devices that historically we never would have dreamt of being connected to the Internet become commonplace,” he said in a presentation on Thursday.
Specifically, Mr. Evans highlighted a new line of running shoes from Nike that can track a wearer’s progress and post updates online and a special tag worn by some livestock to keep tabs on their diet and overall health. There is even a tree in Belgium packed with sensors and cameras that constantly posts local environmental updates on Twitter.
“That tree in Brussels has 3,000 followers,” he said. “How many people on Twitter can say they have 3,000 followers?” (this reporter cannot)
In talking about what Mr. Evans has dubbled “The Internet of Things,” it is first important to distinguish the Internet from the World Wide Web, which many see as synonymous but is actually an application running atop the complex communication network that is the true Internet.