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Customers, Makers More Closely Linked with Internet of Things

In “CAPITAL”, Karl Marx presented some striking thoughts about the nature of everyday products, which he called commodities. A commodity ought to be “a very trivial thing”, he argued, and “easily understood”. But in fact it is the opposite: “a very queer thing, abounding in metaphysical subtleties and theological niceties.” In primitive societies people fetishise religious objects, imagining that they are living beings that can enter into relations with each other and with human beings. In capitalist societies they do the same thing with commodities. Today the queerness of many products is material rather than metaphysical. Stuffed with sensors and microchips, ever more of them really can communicate, via the “internet of things”, with each other and with human beings. Even such mundane things as fizzy drinks and washing powder are set to become “smart”, as their makers attach sensors to their packaging that can detect when the product is being used, and that can communicate with smartphones when scanned. Gartner, a research firm, predicts that the number of wirelessly connected products in existence (not including smartphones or computers) will increase from perhaps 5 billion today to 21 billion by 2020.

Read the whole story at The Economist »

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