Vinay Solanki

IoT, WiFi, Mobile Money Expert | Ex-Goldman Sachs, Airtel| IIM-A | Founder |Author

5:52 PM, 22nd Mar 2018

How to explain IoT to your Grandma !! Machines are like Child

Lately lot of people, enthusiasts, family members (who wonder what do I work on), friends and colleagues seems clueless about what is IoT although they hear smart cities, smart home, home automation, smart egg tray, etc. from media sources. I always jump on such questions and start explaining them in technical terminologies but soon I realized they are getting utterly confused. Questions like "what do you mean by smart things and how are they smart?" "Are they smarter than me?" "Is it artificial intelligence?", "what is IoE?", "whats in it for me?" and so on. So lets try and explain it to a layman.

Machine communicates like a child

Lets say your 1 year old suddenly starts crying, what do you do? you first start checking physically visible symptoms that may have hurt him/her OR make a guess that child is hungry and try feeding and if crying still doesn't stop then you may take him/her to the doctor. Basically since child cannot clearly and legibly communicate what exactly is happening to him/her you do some trial and error measures (Of course over a period of time you understand the reason behind crying better)

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What if the child can tell even at age of 6 months that why I am upset or why I am crying or why I am not sleeping ? I will call it a smart child and that's what a smart object or thing would mean. 

Machines or things or objects around you who cannot speak but with help of sensors, software and some processing of data , they can tell you what is happening with them. If suddenly paper producing machines starts spinning low quality paper, it can give you some forewarning about what is wrong with it or what potentially could go wrong. If there can be two way communication between you and things around you then just imagine how well you can manage them and also improve efficiency of the process.

Machine can learn like a Child

Machines will just learn like a child says IBM CEO and I agree. How a child gradually learns to crawl then walk then run or how a child learns a language, the same will be done by things around you. You are using washing machine for ages now, they come in various forms such as semi automatic, fully automatic and manual. 

How do you think it works behind the scene? Intelligence is built into it that helps it do most of things automatically. Lets take it step forward - say your washing machine is able to learn by the types of clothes you wash most frequently, quality of clothes and amount of powder you put and start telling you that hey you are putting probably too much of powder OR better can indicate that this material can loose color. Similarly your refrigerators, lights, fans, etc. can be made to work smarter and save you time and money. There can be many more parallel I can draw to explain it further but with this two analogies I got a much better positive reaction from the audience.

Onward to more learning and sharing

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