The Long-Awaited Internet of Things at GROW

Hawkinson’s SmartThings mobile app can turn your smartphone into a remote control for your entire life.

Two entrepreneurs analyze the proliferation of web-linked hardware and what it means for the world

The so-called “Internet of things” is one of those big technological promises that’s been a long time coming. It’s like the flying car. Except a little different, because everyone wants a flying car, and the Internet of things is actually here. Speculation about Internet-connected appliances is almost as old as the Internet itself. But while the basic technology has existed for a long time, it’s taken a few key innovations, both technological and in figuring out how we’re actually going to use all this web-linked hardware, to bring us to the point where a bathroom scale can send a tweet.

Day-two GROW Conference panel on the subject featured Alex Hawkinson and Jef Holove, two entrepreneurs producing some of the devices that have brought about the age of ubiquitous connected objects. Holove is the CEO of Basis, a leader in the emerging wearable-technology market, that makes a smartphone-connected watch that can measure blood flow, motion, perspiration and skin temperature, as well as an associated app that lets users analyze and share their “quantified self.”

Hawkinson founded SmartThings, which plans to sell a suite of home automation devices controllable by a smartphone. The two spent 30 minutes with moderator Kevin Talbot, manager partner with VC firm Relay Ventures, talking about how they plan to upend the ways we interact with our stuff by enabling our stuff to interact with the web.

Why is the Internet of things coming to fruition now? The panellists explained that a few key recent changes enable what their companies do. The first is mass adoption of smartphones. As Holove puts is, “clearly the prevalence of connectivity is a key driver.” Other important advances have been made in battery technology. And a third big force driving the growth of the Internet of things is the combined decline in the cost of sensors and proliferation of new types of sensors. If you’ve got sensors everywhere and connectivity everywhere, you’ve got the Internet of things. It may not be the flying car, but it’s here.