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Donald Norman wrote in his 1998 book The Invisible Computer that at some point in the future, personal computers would cease to be one-size-fits-all behemoths on our desks, and start to disappear by being embedded in ‘information appliances’ designed for specific tasks. Apparently, he had a crystal ball that showed him this year’s CES.

In particular, I saw lots of news about companies launching non-phone devices with NFC (near-field communication) capability. There was a light switch that let you control the lights in your house with your (NFC-enabled) smartphone, thermostats that receive information on when to turn up or down based on the proximity and position of your phone, cameras that can transfer their files to other NFC devices over WiFi, smart door locks, headphones, PCs, printers, appliances… and the list goes on.

The names behind the devices include Cannon, Lenovo, LG, Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and many other smaller manufacturers.

These are the pieces that are creating the much-talked-about Internet of Things (IoT). Gartner predicted late last year that the IoT will grow to 26 billion units by 2020—a 30X increase from 2009. Here’s a good infographic that explains the IoT in pictures and numbers. [paste in infographic from next page]

SAP published this infographic less than a year ago, but the list of devices above makes it seem sadly dated. Am I the only one already frustrated to know that more of my “things” can be connected, will be, but aren’t yet? But innovation is happening fast. And this is just the beginning. If the last year is any indication, I won’t have to wait long.

See a larger version of the infographic here.

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