TL;DR: Connecting the Internet of Things

by Luke Wroblewski March 29, 2012

At the TL;DR Conference in San Francisco CA, Linden Tibbets (founder at Ifttt) talked about making connections between physical items and digital services. Here’s my notes from his talk:

  • What happens when you take the properties of one thing and combine them with the properties of another thing? Example: combine a broom with a ball to play baseball.
  • Abstract things define properties, when you understand those properties you can use them in tandem. Sometimes in ways the original creators didn’t intend.
  • You need to make the useful properties of physical and digital things apparent and accessible to all. This allows people to walk up to a service and understand what it can do for us. This is a trend in product design: obviousness
  • Eventually everything we own will have the sensors and processors available in our smartphones today. It may take a while but it’s going to happen.
  • When we are at that state, there will not be enough developers to make the connections needed to make all these objects interact. We need to empower people to make these connections. Simple connections between the things they use everyday.
  • Ifttt puts the Internet of things to work for everyone. On ifttt, channels have properties that can be combined into tasks like if you upload a photo to Facebook it can be saved to Dropbox.
  • Ifttt is building a tool to help people define what these meaningful connections are.
  • Three buckets of things being made right now: cross-posting items, notifications for information changes, and archiving information from one service to another.