In the Internet of Things, the Server in Your Pocket Fills the Room
I’m going to go on record – the name “server” is going extinct. From servers that filled up entire rooms and buildings to just add simple numbers, we have evolved into a world where I can store a server in the closet of my office to do things like stream TV to the Xboxes in each room of my house. And with the Cloud, I don’t even have to do that. My Nest, my Fitbit, my Sonos, and other devices all use the Cloud to access the internet and sync with each other. But now with Google Glass and wearable computing I’m finding we’re moving to a new type of Server — the server in your pocket called your phone.
For the last several years if you wanted your portable devices to connect to the internet they needed to each have their own SIM card and Cellphone contract. With the many devices in our lives, that prices adds up more and more as I add a Kindle and/or a Nexus 7 for my 6 kids, an iPad for me and my wife, smartphones, and things like Chromebook and other similar devices that use cell connections to get internet. There’s a better way to do it and I think Google Glass is headed there – it’s through the server in your pocket.
Glass decided to take an approach that doesn’t use a cell connection or SIM card to get internet access. Instead, it uses either the bluetooth or WiFi tethering of your phone to get to the internet. It’s not perfect, nor is it ideal, and in fact I see it as one of the biggest complaints amongst users of the device. However, I think that’s a cultural issue that is going to change.
As I head out places now with Google Glass, there’s a process I go through. I check the battery on my phone and my Glass, make sure I have a backup battery, and then I turn on the Wireless Hotspot on my Samsung Galaxy S3 because it doesn’t support Bluetooth tethering. It’s not ideal, but you can see how just a few tweaks to the phone and a recognition that the phone is now the center of all devices around it will fix these issues. I can really see where Google is going with this.
I think you’ll see companies like Google and Apple improve your phone as not just another device on your home network, but the device that powers all of the “things” around you. You’ll see bluetooth profiles emerge where multiple devices can all connect to your phone at once and use the connection. You’ll see automatic awareness of the devices your phone is familiar with, without any user intervention. You’ll see better battery life and I bet you’ll rarely even take your phone out of your pocket, unless you need to truly draw or type something you just can’t speak out loud.
I’ve touched lightly on this subject before with the release of the iPad and integration of Airplay between Apple devices back in 2010 – we’re moving into a world where you’ll have many types of monitors that will automatically sync with your phone. One could be Google Glass. One could be the monitor on your desk. Another could be an iPad or tablet device. Others could be the windows on your car. Or how about Billboards on the side of the road? Or what about syncing with your brain waves and sending you signals with no monitor at all? Believe it or not, we’re almost there. Your phone will be your personal “server” and everything around you will automatically become aware of the presence of your phone.
To do this, Google needs to start improving the Android experience to do this – I expect they’re headed that direction. Apple does too. In the meantime, start practicing getting the word “server” out of your vocabulary – you are the server now.
The future is here.