This question originally appeared on Quora:Is the Internet of Things a solution looking for a problem? Why or why not?
Answer by Jonathan Brill, Start-up Specialist
Internet of Things is a collection of technologies that are one critical component of making dumb, inefficient, resource-wasteful systems become smart. What does smart mean? In the context of a smart home, it would mean providing the maximum level of comfort while using the least amount of resources.
One example: if you own a home you likely employ a number of systems that make your space more comfortable and nice to live in; things like a heating and cooling system, an electrical system, a water heating system, and if you have a nice yard, an irrigation system. Most of the existing versions of those systems in homes today are at least ten years old, and what we would classify as very dumb, almost mechanical, but definitely manual. When you're cold you might turn your thermostat up which activates your heater and then proceeds to heat up the air in your entire living space. You may or may not remember to ever turn it off when you're comfortable again or when you leave.
A smarter version would understand what comfortable means, make you comfortable (in whatever room you're in and are going to be) and then disengage when you're no longer awake or home. This is what "smart" thermostats like Nest are trying to achieve. They're smarter, connected, and use data about behavior to keep you comfortable using less resources.
If you took that capability and added it to every system in your home, you could be more comfortable while using a fraction of the resources. That these technologies aren't pervasive is a result of resource cost not being high enough and component cost not being low enough.
But those of us who are excited about this space and follow it expect that to change over the next year or so.