Jun 112014

Apple-looks-to-standardize-iBeacon-manufacturing-by-third-parties.jpgCreate a tiny computer using as small a chip you can get.

Stick a Bluetooth LE or equivalent transmitter on it. Even better if you can get GPS. Even more if you can get a low power cellphone chip.

Call this a node.

A node has a unique id. Nodes get stuck on objects in a non-removable way. So basically, you have a ThingID.

A ThingID periodically pings for any ThingIDs that are near it, and remembers what they are. In other words, it’s a small mesh network of ThingIDs that are near each other. If a ThingID near another ThingID goes away, they both remember it and timestamp it. Maybe you can use signal strength to triangulate and get more precise locations.

When something more powerful comes by, like say a smartphone, it automatically gets all the data from the ThingID. It can also add stuff only it can provide – imagery, for example, or GPS coordinates, and upload those to the cloud.

The smartphone can of course use the ThingID to look up a ThingID (and therefore the object) in the database of ThingIDs.

Some ThingIDs are familiar – they cross-reference to VIN’s on cars, SKU numbers, or to social security numbers, or to taxi medallion numbers, or ASINs, or to serial numbers. The ThingID is just a unifier – these additional identifiers just all get associated into the master ThingID. So you can pull down whatever info is out there in databases related to that.

Some aren’t in there yet, but that’s OK. A ThingID is an instance id, you see, that then always cross-references to a template ID. Call that a TypeID. If a given ThingID doesn’t have a lot of data associated with it, you can always use it to instead go to the model number, or whatever. So any washing machine with a ThingID lets you pull up the manual for the TypeID on your phone as soon as you walk near it.

As annotations are added to ThingIDs, you’ll be able to get the service record too. And also stuff like its shipping history (since it was once near the ThingID for a shipping container, a customs scanner, and so on). If someone steals your object, odds are good you’ll even be able to map the trail it took away from your house.

Google-AR-Glasses1After a while you start creating ThingID for virtual things too. Businesses, for example, so that you can swallow up Zagat and Yelp. A statue with a ThingID pulls up not only the entry for that statue, its sculptor, the date it was emplaced, etc, but also for the related ThingID of the historical event it commemorates. Then ThingIDs swallow Wikipedia (or maybe Wikidata first, then Wikipedia).

A virtual space is created using data from ThingIDs, of course. You want to be able to geographically place ThingIDs into virtual datasets. The most obvious application is simple mapping, but that’s not that interesting.

More interesting is the notion of RealityIDs, which act as filters on ThingIDs. A given ThingID may or may not exist within a given RealityID; each is basically a different kind of view. So a tourist RealityID may not know about the ThingIDs for cars, but will readily display all the historical markers. You could create a RealityID filtered on a time range, for example, that only displays ThingIDs that were present within that timeframe. With this, you could walk around New York and be shown the ThingIDs that were around on a specific day, a specific hour.

You can also have RealityIDs that are purely virtual; the ThingIDs that they track aren’t real at all. The alien invasion of New York in a movie might be a set in a marketing or fan-centered RealityID. The building that was blown up can be looked at through the lens of its historical interest, its reviews, its engineering data, or the on-set commentary on how they made it explode in CG.

41ubmdQkR2LSome folks might choose to play games in the real world, using RealityIDs that overlay reality with ThingIDs for fantasy creatures, locations, etc.

Various sorts of devices allow perceiving RealityIDs; you can attune your augmented reality glasses to a given RealityID as you walk around. Fancy ones even use the data to overlay visuals on top of what you see; you can simulate a given ThingID being present, so you can see how that couch would look in your living room by creating a temporary RealityID and saying “pretend that ThingID #9863258752135986 is at this location.”

Some are hardcore; they use full virtual systems, such as desktop monitors or VR goggles, to explore RealityIDs. The ones that have few ThingIDs in common with the physical world might still get called MMOs by the old-school players.

Of course, I neglected to mention that people have ThingIDs. They fit into RealityIDs too. You can backtrace them through too. You can annotate them with metadata, like say, their LinkedIn profile, or any one of multiple competing digital reputation systems (some hardcore folks might use Cory Doctorow’s “whuffie,” but most prefer eBay’s, or other vertical narrow reps, maybe). You can simulate them being somewhere too. You can choose not to display them in a given RealityID. You can surface one set of statistics about them in one RealityID, and a different set in a different RealityID.

All of this is basically running on exactly the same sort of dataset as what we used to use for just making silly online games… the way to build this future, you see, is to build a hell of a virtual world backend, and then start making every object be a cb6884da9166a6f21ed1ec958ec3c3b29_largelient.

I am pretty sure that this is what multiple megacorps are currently working towards, though I am also pretty sure that most of them haven’t worked enough in virtual worlds to realize that’s how to do it.

As soon as the price of a ThingID falls low enough, and it is about the size of a half-centimeter sticker, waterproof, flat, and basically calls for no power, I bet we stick them everywhere. After all, we don’t want to lose our keys.

Right now, ThingIDs are big and bulky. They are chips in pets, GPSes, RFIDs, and iBeacons.

Pretty sure they won’t be for long.

  15 Responses to “How to build the scary future today”

  1. This will be great for the “domestic terrorist” issues that will surely grow.

    “Do you know me?”
    “American Impressed Credit Implants, you can’t leave home without it.”

  2. Brilliant Raph – as you know, my theme is “there is no offline”…beacons etc are the ‘gateway drug to the internet of everything’ and suggest that there is absolutely NO boundary between physical and digital in the not too distant slightly scary future.

    And what’s interesting about that future – the one we saw in Vernor’s brilliant book, is that things won’t be single entities – they’ll be washing machines and waypoints on a virtual quest.

    Exciting scary brilliant invigorating and…well, yeah….a new game.

  3. Neat. And surely as right as one can be. But I missed the scary.

  4. The “scary” part is when corporations require their employees to ThingID up. They’ll incorporate it into a key card or something that everyone will need to get thru the front door at work everyday. They can then track every minute you do and don’t spend at work, and where you are spending it. You’ll hear the standard Facebook line “your privacy is safe with us”, which we all know is a lie. The info will be used to provide an activity database for future employers to access. You thought a credit check for employment was scary? That’s nothing.

  5. Scarier yet is when a socialized society starts telling you where you can take your carbon footprints because their stagnating economy of rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul can’t afford your liberty.

  6. One potential benefit of ubiquitous ubicomp surveillance might be that that tired rhetorical political stuff on both sides gets blown up by data. We’ll see. 🙂 I am skeptical though.

    A world of constant, perfect data is going to be uncomfortable on all sides, and whether it’s government or corps who run it.

  7. That’ll be a little late, Raph.

  8. Besides, Raph. As is already crystal clear, the corporate side of this has been subjugated by the government side. And we already have a stagnated rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul economy. If you question that then go to zerohedge.com. Forget their conclusions, just look at the data presented and draw your own.

    Your carbon footprint is already being controlled too, Through economics. Taxes, regulations and restrictions on carbon production are driving costs up to levels that many can’t afford. Food and utilities are up beyond anything reported in government pretend data, just look at your bills. Look at the package size or content reductions. 25% of our nation’s corn crop went to mandated ethanol in gasoline in 2013, 40% in 2012 due to the drought and crop loss (and the production of said ethanol doesn’t equate to saving us anything including carbon). As a result, people can’t travel like they used to, people can’t afford as much as they used to, and a too large percentage are no longer middle class.

    All in the name of “global warming” that’s not really there. The alarmists used satellite images of ice caps starting in 1979 after a decade of extreme cold and blizzards and then noted with alarm that they were shrinking after the cold period was over. They then got lucky as oceanic volcanic activity caused more warmer waters, activity that was discovered in the arctic in 2008 (I believe), and discovered just recently in the antarctic. This did cause some temporary world warming, but man had nothing to do with that.

    Meanwhile, the UN and it’s IPCC (along with government folks with an agenda, see: Bilderberg group) have pushed not only for control of world wide carbon but UN taxation on carbon (control of wealthy producer nations) so they can feed funds to non-wealthy non-producer nations (in exchange for control) in pursuit of the control of carbon…and nations…and people.

    As we watch world temps not increase for the last 12-15 years (despite reported regional record highs, which happens regardless) and the arctic ice cap grow by 35-40% >mass< from 2012 to 2013 and the antarctic also growing.

    But there's reputations and careers at stake. And there's FUNDS at stake. Funds for "scientific studies", funds for university programs, funds for poor nations. Tax exemptions for "green", rebates from both sides of supplier and user. Funds that come from the same governments robbing people of carbon benefits at their cost.

    And there's super wealth at stake. Soros, Buffett, corporate wealth (G.E. as an example), Too Big To Fail execs. Lots of very big money making more lots of very big money.

    We the people can't afford this. There's no need for this. All there is is a variety of groups that want this for the reasons I've presented. But when we the people finally rise against this, there's already capability to control said people, and more means coming.

    So I beg you and anyone else reading this, get data now. Don't wait for the final outcome. Because now we can do this peacefully. Later, it's going to take a lot of blood, or submission.

  9. This blog post and thread are not about climate change. My previous reply was an attempt to gently redirect. I agree with some of what you are saying and strongly disagree with quite a lot of it, but it is all off-topic.

  10. It’s all related to what you shrugged off as “tired rhetorical political stuff”, and directly related to the topic you started and call “scary” yourself.

    If you strongly disagree, then I have to conclude that you don’t have enough data. I suggested you get that data. And your response evidently is that you aren’t going to. Furthermore, you don’t want it discussed here under a topic that you brought up because you disagree.

    I guess it’s your blog, do what you want with it.

  11. Believe me, I have looked into climate change data. I happen to fall on the other side on that particular issue. However, I don’t see its direct connection to surveillance and privacy issues, and most especially don’t see its direct connection to ubiquitous computing and Internet of Things.

    Yes, all sorts of issues converge at the top if you choose to treat them as symptoms or expressions of political climate, of power grabs, etc, but we could just as easily place arts funding or the rise of YouTube cheat videos for higher education in the same bucket. The connections exist, but it just wasn’t the topic at hand IMHO.

  12. This is very difficult to do without writing a book. That’s why conversation is so important. But eventually I could make my case and connect all the dots save one. The ultimate “why”. I do have a strong opinion on that, as opposed to the facts I could present the rest of the way through.

    But let me make a case here. You think funding arts is innocent? Normally it would be. But what if those arts are funded on the basis of political contributions, and those contributions are used to further something like surveillance of private citizens? I’m not saying that’s happening with arts, just pointing out that then it’s not so innocent.

    On anthropogenic global warming (man caused for those not familiar), there is no evidence to support it and lots of evidence against it. If it’s happening at all, it’s so slow that we have many many years before we have to actually do something, and by that time we’ll actually have new technology that’s economically feasible.

    Trying to find the link now is almost impossible, but one of the founders of the IPCC (UN’s climate change panel) quit after he himself ran the numbers on the report that supposedly 97% of scientists supported. In his letter of resignation he claimed that “we may have 1,000 years to find out”. And those 97% of scientists had only a yes or no box to check, with something like 80% saying they wished they has a “maybe” place to check. That was based on that original report, which later proved to be based on very faulty “science”, and very likely to have been intentionally doctored.

    In light of all the facts coming out against AGL, the question must be raised as to why the effort continues.

  13. Here’s some articles related to global warming you might find interesting…

    Scientists Behaving Badly

    Arctic Volcanoes

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.