Charles Day, in his column “Olive spoons and terrapin forks” (Physics Today, February 2017, page 8), seems to lament the use of LED lighting as decoration because it uses energy that would otherwise never be consumed. Making the leap to the Internet of Things and the usual milk-carton example, he argues that wastefulness is a by-product of technological progress. However, if the LED display were the critically acclaimed work of an artist, it would still be as wasteful of energy, yet also pleasurable and beneficial.
Similarly, the Internet of Things may promise a notification that my milk is sour, but one can easily imagine having the carton call the milkman for a delivery rather than simply texting me.
That is the approach with POEM Technology’s monitoring system, which optimizes oil deliveries by reading and uploading heating oil tank levels, in turn allowing suppliers and consumers to fine-tune scheduling. Rather than being wasteful, the monitors enhance efficiencies by eliminating excess deliveries and their greenhouse gas emissions. Perhaps the real promise of the Internet of Things comes when the market realizes the value of such a closed-loop system. I do not want to get a text from my milk carton, but I would like to see the milk truck show up automatically, like it did when I was a child.
An excerpt from Arnol Stillman‘s article in an American Institute of Physics Publication