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The role of learning in the #IoT


At GigaOM’s Mobilize Conference 2013 earlier this month in San Francisco, the Internet of Things (IoT) was one of three main areas pegged as primed for growth and disruption.  Xively confidently predicts IoT will be the largest technology market, ever.  To put these claims into perspective, it’s helpful to know that the same amount of data that was generated from the beginning of time up to 2008 will soon be generated every 10 minutes – and the rate is accelerating.  This digital throughput is the lifeblood of the IoT.

As demonstrated by the products and presentations at Mobilize 2013, we are reaching some significant milestones in the IoT marketplace. We are on the verge of a massive and disruptive opportunity.  Xively’s presentation of  the connected fuel tank as an IoT-fueled transformation of a market from as-needed to as-a-service cloud model is thrilling.

With makers and hackers are on both sides of the equation in the IoT marketplace, it’s a marketplace built on autodidacts.  Bre Pettis credits his experience as a teacher with leading him to making.  He began the maker movement with simple how-to videos based on his experience doing hands-on demos for his students.  The role of learning in the IoT is coming into focus.

The learning lens

By virtue of its ubiquity, IoT creates an immersive environment embedded with valuable learning opportunities.  With one recent survey indicating that game-based learning is expected to reach $2.3 billion by 2017, there will be an opportunity to leverage IoT and game-based learning.


But game-based learning is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value of learning in the IoT.  Originating at the DoD, the ADL’s xAPI initiative is working hard to evolve the online learning experience.  Recognizing that learning happens everywhere, the elearning UX will be very different than what we have today. Learning online will be contextually controlled, asynchronous.  Micro-transactions will scaffold into much larger goals, achieving far more effective knowledge transfer than we have achieved today.

It’s interesting to note that recommendation engines are a cited use case for xAPI from the ADL because as Google Now and Apple Siri demonstrate, recommendation engines are the current proving grounds for AI.  Increasingly, we’ll see greater value in going beyond the recommendations provided by ever-faster algorhithms.


New balance of things

IoT acceptance into the mainstream is generally viewed as being within five years but Google isn’t waiting – they’re busy finding more valuable uses for its network beyond serving ads.  The digital ecosystem is a core benefit of the IoT, but, makers must be ready to prove their products first in this brave new business model. Bug Labs CEO Peter Semmelhack says that “like Apple did with the iPhone, Internet of Things players have to bring in customers with a great product before they will be in a position to create an ecosystem of applications based on their product.”


As Rachio, the Denver-based Mobilize 2013Product Showcase winner, and maker of smart sprinkler believes there are times when you want to engage and land in fun and inspiring ways.  Put another way, they say: Have a minute to relax? Take over when ready.

Many experts predict that self-service will be the consumer value that drives IoT adoption. I agree, and I believe the value of embedded learning is a long tail opportunity for driving consumer engagement. As demonstrated by some of the examples above, it’s good to see providers already building learning into their designs.