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You may have noticed that there’s a lot of talk about the “internet of things” – things that aren’t computers but with connectivity, such as appliances and sensors. Think of an internet-connected lightbulb, thermostat, door lock, washing machine or oven you can control from inside or outside your house. Think of a bridge that can communicate when its concrete structure is starting to show signs of ageing in places that can’t be reached by normal inspection. Think of a car that communicates with other cars about traffic and road conditions.
It’s a thrilling concept if you believe in the power of the internet to transform our lives, and connectivity and intelligent (or at least constantly monitoring) systems to improve our wellbeing. And that’s before you get into the question of how many of the “things” might be objects that you swallow or have otherwise inserted into your system, temporarily or longer term. There’s already a system for rotating computer hard drives called Smart that often gives you a warning if your drive is ill (drives can fail without Smart warning you, but a warning ahead of time should be taken seriously). What if you could have a similar warning for your boiler, or oven, or your heart?