“If Terminex uses connected mousetraps… they could send

[staff] directly to traps that have experienced a “Downed Mouse Event… They no longer have to send staff to empty mousetraps. ” -Hugo Fiennes, Co-Founder and CEO, Electric Imp

Early-Stage Connection
Imagine if Home-brew Computer Club members of the 1980’s took their products directly to market with shiny packaging and advanced distribution; you’ve got a good mental image of the Ambient IQ (connected device) market. Early-stage innovation with advanced market infrastructure, funded by VC’s.

Participants of the Home-brew-meets-funding world collaborated at VLAB’s March event. They, along with representatives from the tech establishment, discussed Ambient IQ. The panel communicated anticipation, but ambiguity. Somehow, connected devices will change our lives. Something big is coming. But what?

What will the revolutionary future of Ambient IQ look like? We’re waiting for someone to paint the picture for us. Which innovators will create revolutionary uses for connected devices? If our panelists knew, they weren’t telling.

So maybe you, the reader, can piece together a vision of the future from the resources currently available. I’ll define the state of connection, along with some advice and resources from our panel. What can you envision?

The Scale of Connection:
Bill Ferrell, Moderator, Founder of Weld, Inc. defines Ambient IQ:
new actions (software) + new data (sensors) = new intelligence.

Cisco predicts 75,000,000,000 devices will connect to wireless networks by the year 2030. In other words, any item you can dream up will connect to networks. Measure any metric from any device in near real-time. And through new software that processes the metrics, those same devices can automatically respond.

How To Build Your Own Connected Device:
Step 1: Choose a function you want to fill
Want to monitor the water level or pH in your flower vase or herb garden? Want to trigger motion alerts to catch a pesky raccoon in the act? What device should engage when you receive your trigger?

Step 2: Grab your needed sensors
Thanks in large part to smart phone innovation, cheap sensors abound. Try finding what you need from one of the distributors on this page: http://electricimp.com/docs/gettingstarted/devkits/

Hugo Fiennes, Co-Founder and CEO, Electric Imp has already prepared your virtual operating system, along with connection infrastructure for your devices. He’s created “a platform where device inventors could [build on connectivity]”- device-to-cloud infrastructure.

Step 3: Pick-up an imp card and plug it in
The imp card, (a wifi controller programmable through an online interface), connects your device to a browser-based OS, and automatically updates your device with your software revisions. Plug the imp card into your device with an electric imp April board. Find them here:

Step 3: Write your code, and run.
You’ve got a connected device that can interact with anything else connected through electric imp.

How To Go To Market:
Step 1: Draw some inspiration
Thejo Kote, Co-Founder and CEO of Automatic developed a solution that connects your car, saves you money, and saves you time. Fiennes started his company while trying to connect a device in his home. He discovered immense obstacles and decided to create a solution.

Michael Yang of Comcast Ventures says, “We don’t really need more displays and more UX environments; we have them already. How do you make the ones we have integrate?”

Step 2: Validate your market
The most important initial task, according to Savitha Srinivasan of the IBM Venture Capital Group, is to determine, “Is this something people actually want to use?”

Kote advises not to worry about mainstream appeal early on. It’s only a matter of time, he says, “so long as you’re building something people actually want to use.”

Step 3: Prepare for fulfillment, and launch
Fiennes says, “Don’t optimize for cost at the beginning.” Just figure out if it works.

Yang advises on infrastructure and marketing:
“If you really want to go mass, it’s push and pull.” If you want to reach a mass audience, you need to nail distribution. And then there’s pull. What draws consumers to your product? You can sell on fear [home security]. You can sell on cost [saving money with a thermostat]. “You have to tap into something innate and primal” to get people to readily adopt your product.

So then…
What will the world look like? Everything can connect. Everything can interact. What do you think?

(Written by Eric McClellanVLAB Marketing Committee Blogger. Eric coaches start-ups in UX design and external communications.)