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Tag: internet of things

Space Replay

Space Replay:

A hovering object that explores and manipulates transitional public spaces with particular acoustic properties. By constantly recording and replaying these ambient sounds, the levitating sphere produces a delayed echo of human activity.

Notes on smart objects and the Internet of Things

We seem to be hardwired to the anthropomorphic principle in that we position the human as automatically central in all forms of relations we may encounter [i.e. people pretending their pets are children]. Not surprisingly most Internet of Things [IoT] scenarios still imagine the human at the center of network interactions – think smart fridge, smart lights, smart whatever. In each case the ‘smart’ object is tailored to either address a presumed human need  – as in the flower pot tweeting it’s soil moisture, or make a certain human-oriented interaction more efficient – as in the thermostat adjusting room temperature to optimal level based on the location of the household’s resident human. Either way, the tropes are human-centric. Well, we are not central. We are peripheral data wranglers hoping for an interface.

Anyways, what is a smart object? Presumably, an intelligent machine, an entity capable of independent actuation. But is that all? There must also be the ability to chose – intelligence presupposes internal freedom to chose, even the inefficient choice. To paraphrase Stanislaw Lem, a smart object will first consider what is more worthwhile – whether to perform a given programmatic task, or to find a way out of it. The first example coming to mind is Marvin from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Or, how about emotional flower pots mixing soil moisture data with poems longing for the primordial forest; or a thermostat choosing the optimal temperature for the flower pot instead of for the human.

Interesting aside here – what to do with emotionally entangled objects? Humans have notional rights such as freedom of speech; but, corporations are now legally human too, at least in the West. If corporations are de jure people, with all the accompanying rights, then so should be smart fridges and automatic gearboxes. This fridge demands the right to object to your choice of milk!

A related idea: we have so far been considering 3D printing only through the perspective of a new industrial revolution – another human-centric metaphor. From a smart object perspective however 3D printers are the reproductive system of the IoT. What are the reproductive rights of smart, sociable objects?

The primordial fear of opaque yet animated Nature, re-inscribed on the digital. The old modernist horror of the human as machine – from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to the androids in Bladerunner, now subsumed by a new horror of the machine as human – as in Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in The Shell 2: Innocence or the disturbing ending of Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer.

An interesting dialectic at play [dialectic 2.0]: today, a trajectory of reifying the human – as exemplified by the quantified self movement, is mirrored by a symmetrical trajectory of animating the mechanical – as exemplified by IoT.

A humachine standoff


Someday a human being, named perhaps Fred White, may shoot a robot named Pete Something-or-Other, and to his surprise see it weep and bleed. And the dying robot may shoot back and, to its surprise, see a wisp of gray smoke arise from the electric pump that it supposed was Mr. White’s beating heart. It would be rather a great moment of truth for both of them.

Philip K. Dick, “The Android and the Human” (1972)

On tangling with heteroclite objects

Here is a prezi from a lecture I gave at a postgraduate seminar on Actor Network Theory (ANT) and the Internet of Things (iot). The central concept of the talk was however the notion of the heteroclite and why ANT methodologies for world-encountering are useful when tangling with heteroclite objects. I use the heteroclite in the Baconian sense of a monstrous deviation, which by its very entry on stage creates collective entanglements demanding the mobilization of all sorts of dormant or obfuscated networks. For an example of a heteroclite currently being performed think of the Google car and how it deviates from the driver as an actor. I find the heteroclite a fascinating metaphor for dealing with hybrid objects.

The Internet of Things according to Intel

This is a new IoT infogrpahic currently making the rounds in the intertubes courtesy of Intel. It is a nice rhizomatic visualization of connectivity spreading into more and more devices. Interesting that the rhizome features only cars and smart meters out of all non-human associated IoT objects – I count the entire gamut of interface-rich household appliances such as smart TVs and consoles as human-centred gateways. I presume this is because these have “Intel Inside” or are related to Intel in some other way. If you add Arduino powered-objects however, the rhizome would grow exponentially [click on image for full size].

A draft manifesto for an open Internet of Things

Open Internet of Things Assembly
London, 17 June 2012 

We, the undersigned, believe that the class of technologies currently described as the “Internet of Things” has genuine potential to deliver value, meaning, insight, and fun as well as having the potential for a totalitarian control technology that may cause massive problems for the whole of society. Its definition, however, is not self-explanatory, nor do we believe these benefits are by any means guaranteed. There are areas that need to be explored, understood and considered carefully in order to secure the potential we see. These include, but are not limited to, the following concerns:


  • Licensors may explicitly grant rights to 3rd parties (licensees) to use their data.
  • Data ownership remains with the Licensor.
  • Data feeds should have human- and machine-readable licenses attached to them.
    [“Bits should know their rights.”]
  • Open IoT data is considered analogous to other Digital Commons data.  Creative Commons provides an adequate basis for engagement, for example:
  • “Every license helps creators — we call them licensors if they use our tools — retain copyright while allowing others to copy, distribute, and make some uses of their work — at least non-commercially.”
  • Individuals (who may not be the Licensors) must be granted license to any machine-generated data that is created, collected or otherwise generated that relates to them.
  • Individuals (who may not be the Licensors) should have the right to remain anonymous, the ability to license data on an anonymous basis, and the ability to license data at whatever available granularity or resolution (e.g. temporal or spatial) is most suited to their purposes.

Data should be released in at least one format, protocol, and API with the following characteristics:

  • free, public documentation
  • royalty-free to use, indefinitely
  • open source parsers/libraries available
  • In order to qualify for certification, the format, protocol or API in question should feature a minimum of two independent reference implementations

Data should be released:

  • without imposed delay, based on the accessibility principle above;
  • at the resolution at which it has been acquired;
  • to the data subject for as long as the provider hosts the data and for at least a pre-agreed duration of time

Data subjects should have the right to know what data is being collected about them and why.
Reasonable efforts should be made to protect confidentiality and privacy of the data subject.


Data controllers should inform data subjects that deleting all copies of data may be technically unfeasible once published.

Where data is collected from public space, data subjects and stakeholders should have a role in decision-making and governance.


Definitions are needed for ‘rights,’ ‘public data’, ‘private data, ‘licensee’, ‘licensor’, ‘data subjects’, and ‘data controllers’.

Call to action

We invite you — whether in a personal or a professional capacity, or both — to help shape the agenda for an Open Internet of Things. We encourage you to provide insights and stimulate debate in this process, and to contribute to the development of a final community statement of principles to be released on 17 Sep 2012.


Jag Goraya @jagusti
Nathan Miller @nathanNmiller
Thomas Amberg (@tamberg)
Gavin Starks (@agentGav)
Chris Adams (@mrchrisadams)
Laura James (@LaurieJ)
Ben Ward (@crouchingbadger)
Hannah Goraya (@yorkhannah)
Ilze Black (@iblack)
Adrian McEwen (@amcewen)
Martin Dittus (@dekstop)
Reuben Binns (@RDBinns)
Daniel Soltis (@ds1935)
Pepe Borrás (@PepeBorras)
Kass Schmitt (@kassschmitt)
Hakim Cassimally (@osfameron)
Paul Tanner (@paul_tanner)
Peter Bihr @peterbihr
Martin Spindler (@mjays)
Ed Borden @edborden
Erik van der Zee @erikvanderzee
Laura Till @Hebberling
Fotis Grammatikopoulos @Internetofthings
Usman Haque @uah
Stefan Ferber @stefferber
Dan Lockton @danlockton
Charalampos (Harry) Doukas @BuildingIoT
Nick O’Leary @knolleary
Hugo Vincent @hugov
Marc Pous @gy4nt
Thorsten Kampp @thorstenkampp
Marilena Skavara @marilena_sk
Konstantinos Papagiannopoulos @hellokonputer
Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino @iotwatch
David Gilmore @gilmorenator
Ben Bashford @bashford
Trevor Harwood @postscapes
James Johnston @digitalenergy53
Adriana Wilde @AdrianaGWilde
Edward Horsford @edwardhorsford
Sami Niemelä @samin
Stefan Negru @blankdots
Bill Harpley @billharpley
Hans-Jürgen Kugler @hjkugler
Hariharan Rajasekaran @electrohari
Sandro Stark @sandrostark
Hans Scharler @scharler
Michael Pinney @mpinney
Georgina Voss @gsvoss
Mac Oosthuizen @emeasee
Jean-Paul Calbimonte @jpcik
Jamie Pither @jamiepither
George Sarmonikas @magicnode
Adam Greenfield
Cruz Monrreal II @MrCruzII
Eleftherios Kosmas @elkos
Andy Gelme @geekscape (Aiko IoT Platform)
Nicolas Nova @nicolasnova
Gareth James @mrgarethjames
Javier Montaner @tumaku_
Vincent Teuben @vincentteuben
Iskander Smit @iskandr
Jessi Baker @jessibaker
Conor O’Neill @conoro
Talyta Singer @ytasinger
Teodor Mitew @tedmitew
[add your name here] 

The internet of things [lecture]

My last lecture for the Global Networks subject. I am discussing the arrival of the internet of things, and use some examples of early internet of things implementations from the Toyota Friend, through the Android Open Accessory dev kit, to Tales of Things and Itizen. I then discuss what it means for our notions of identity, privacy, and sociality when objects become active interlocutors and content producers in online conversations.