Computational Interest in IoT

Here’s an assertion worth testing…

Any node in an IoT network that is unable to share some aspect of its state with an adjacent node is effectively a display and as such is computationally uninteresting.

Note that these “displays” are very interesting in how they interact with the real world in that they may turn a light on or cause the furnace to heat the house. They’re just nothing that an IoT network can do with them other than “turn them on”. Computationally interesting in this case means that some chain of events not explicitly specified by the sharing node can be triggered by the sharing node’s change in state. Since the bounded result of a change in temperature is explicitly specified by the thermostat/furnace system and that system is not modifiable or augmentable by subsequent nodes (there’s no place to attach them) it is not computationally interesting in an IoT sense.

Sensors, on the other hand, are computationally interesting in that they’re all about sharing their state, however their state is set by the real world, with adjacent nodes. This brings up the interesting notion of real world bridging. The thermostat that doesn’t share its state can fire a furnace until a target temperature is reached (it has its own internal feedback system). The temperature in the room can be measured by a thermometer participating in an internet of things. As a result the thermostat remains computationally uninteresting but the system of the thermostat and the thermometer coupled by the furnace and the temperature in the room becomes a computationally interesting node in the network.

BTW, just for completeness I’ll state the obvious…

Any device whose state cannot be modified by a network of things and whose state cannot be shared with a network of things is not a thing in the IoT sense.

With this statement we can now distinguish a thing from a non-thing. Note that this allows for many disjoint networks of things since any given thing may only be able to communicate with a small collection of other things. This provides us with the notion of bridges that enable communication (state sharing) to occur between two or more networks of things, thus creating an Internet of Things.

I feel pedantically much better. Thank you.

… of course, if a thermostat/furnace changes the temperature of a room which in turn can have a variety of downstream effects depending on the configuration of what or who is in the room … sigh.

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