What do Las Vegas magic acts, famous seasonal forecaster Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have in common? All have a certain “now you see it, now you don’t” quality.

For the magic acts, it’s all about magicians’ sleight of hand in making things seem to disappear and reappear at will. For Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, it’s his shadow that may or may not appear on February 2 of any given year. For the IoT, it comes down to a trend that will signal the next step in IoT evolution: from visible consumer control to invisible autonomous interoperability of the “things” in the IoT.

Interacting with things in the smart home

The smart home is one of the most familiar examples of the IoT in action. Features and functionality enabled by the IoT so far have included things like remote control operation, rules (e.g., optimizing for comfort or energy efficiency), scenes (e.g., interior lighting according to particular activities), and so on.

In general, IoT products have the goal of enhancing how consumers interact with the things in their homes. From Ayla’s vantage point as an IoT Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provider, however, we see that this perspective misses a larger point. Yes, there’s near-term value for both manufacturers and consumers. BUT:

The IoT will reach its full potential only when IoT features and functionality become invisible to consumers: when consumers not only don’t have to interact directly with their connected devices, but the products themselves disappear into the background.

Disappearing act


At first, it’s natural for consumers to be in awe of something like the remote control capability of their thermostat. After a couple of weeks, though, the awe dissipates, consumers lose interest in playing with the thermostat, and they start looking for the next big thing. But remote control operation of a thermostat is just an early implementation of the IoT.

A more interesting and useful IoT thermostat, as we see it, is able to make decisions and function autonomously, out of sight and out of mind, without any help from the consumer. More advanced IoT thermostats will operate by taking most of their cues from third-party data such as weather reports, sensor data from both inside and outside the house, and data generated by other connected products in the smart home.

At this point, in a very real sense, the IoT thermostat ceases to be a point product, but instead becomes 

DSCF7425.0 intertwined with a larger ecosystem that the consumer experiences as a smart home. In other words, the IoT thermostat itself disappears from the view and awareness of the consumer. Almost like magic.

To find out more about the IoT, its continued evolution, and how you can start reaping its benefits now, check out our whitepaper on how to select the right IoT platform.