Twitter is the ultimate connection between people and things
Twitter has always been one of my favorite social media platforms. Not primarily because it allows me to chat with friends but rather because #hashtags allow me to tap into world of opinion and views. I can pick one topic I’m interested in and get new insights and inspiration from people with similar perspectives.
What’s my favorite #hashtag? I really couldn’t say. It varies with my mood – news, marketing, technology, cooking but rarely TV shows despite the fact that it’s the broadcast medium I enjoy the most.
Broadcasting short bursts of text to anyone who’d like to follow them is relatively unique to Twitter and presents interesting opportunities. It’s already used as an effective customer-management tool by businesses. But Twitter could also be employed to steer companies’ production assets across a broad geographic area. This is because followers don’t have to be human beings but could be things as well. In fact, neither the sender nor the follower need to be human beings. Both could be connected things. Things broadcasting to things or to humans. This is a very exciting proposition.
Twitter is a platform built to broadcast short, ‘bursty’ messages – just the type of information that connected things are well adapted to send and receive. There are already examples of how this can serve the needs of people and business. Mashable published a very interesting article providing a few cases. I can only agree with the author, Christopher Mim’s conclusion:
“..As hobbyists build and connect more to the Internet — from devices that broadcast air quality in pollution-choked Beijing to ones that keep tabs on our pets — the status of Twitter as a “universal API” alongside email will mean more traffic — and utility — for the service than ever.”
At Ericsson, we’ve used our Connected Tree as an example of this same, simple idea: one thing using Twitter to tell the world its status. You can take this further too. Plants could tell the sprinkler that they need water. The sprinkler could use a sensor to understand the current weather conditions and then tell the faucet to distribute water that is exactly 20 degrees – all while minimizing energy consumption.
Or why not a bus? It could broadcast to mobile devices close to the bus stop that it’s 2 min late because of traffic. This message could then be picked up and displayed by the bus stop’s digital info board while offering the soon-to-be passengers alerts on their mobile phones (and even to late comers so they wouldn’t have to run).
We’ve only seen the first, early steps of this evolution. It’s hard to imagine all the possibilities and I think, just like Mr Mim, that one of the important factors is in the creative minds of hobbyists. In addition, we need brave investors who dare to invest in ideas that take us closer to the future.