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An Orwellian Landscape Awaits Us: "The Internet of Things"

Back in early May, I spoke with Adam Blum, CEO of Rhomobile, about that company's latest release of its Rhodes cross-platform mobile development framework. One of the touted features of Rhodes 3.0 is support for NFC, allowing developers to easily include this technology in their mobile apps. In speaking with Blum, perhaps what impressed me the most was his ability to see the benefits of NFC beyond the simple commerce and payments equation that is dominating the dialogue. Blum talked about the possibilities of using NFC in line of business applications—for instance, for stock-taking—which led to another new tech term (for me): the Internet of Things. The basic idea behind the Internet of Things is that virtually every object would in some fashion be tagged, whether through RFID or some other method, and you could therefore easily pull up information about anything you're in close proximity with. Although I think this is a fascinating concept, I also think it's a bit on the science fiction side at this point (not to mention somewhat Orwellian). We haven't come close to working out all the details and infrastructure for NFC as a payment method yet—so getting all objects tagged is clearly a fantasy. But you could foresee implementing such a system within your organization. You're already putting asset tags on computer hardware, so it's not a stretch to conceive of a system that would rely on NFC to track who something is signed out to, if there's a service call on something, and so forth. Perhaps that would have to be called the Intranet of Things. Or how about going into a bookstore (assuming such creatures still exist), tapping a book with your phone, and getting a video trailer. No more cumbersome reading of those dust jackets! (Although if you actually feel that way, you're probably not reading books anyway.)

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