1993 Columbia University’s Steven Feiner, Blair MacIntyre, and Dorée Seligmann develop KARMA–Knowledge-based Augmented Reality for Maintenance Assistance. KARMA overlaid wireframe schematics and maintenance instructions on top of whatever was being repaired.
1994 Xerox EuroPARC’s Mik Lamming and Mike Flynn demonstrate the Forget-Me-Not, a wearable device that communicates via wireless transmitters and records interactions with people and devices, storing the information in a database.
1995 Siemens sets up a dedicated department inside its mobile phones business unit to develop and launch a GSM data module called “M1” for machine-to-machine (M2M) industrial applications, enabling machines to communicate over wireless networks. The first M1 module was used for point of sale (POS) terminals, in vehicle telematics, remote monitoring and tracking and tracing applications.
December 1995 MIT’s Nicholas Negroponte and Neil Gershenfeld write in “Wearable Computing” in Wired: “For hardware and software to comfortably follow you around, they must merge into softwear… The difference in time between loony ideas and shipped products is shrinking so fast that it’s now, oh, about a week.”
1999 The Auto-ID (for Automatic Identification) Center is established at MIT. Sanjay Sarma, David Brock and Kevin Ashton turned RFID into a networking technology by linking objects to the Internet through the RFID tag.
1999 Neil Gershenfeld writes in When Things Start to Think: “Beyond seeking to make computers ubiquitous, we should try to make them unobtrusive…. For all the coverage of the growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web, a far bigger change is coming as the number of things using the Net dwarf the number of people. The real promise of connecting computers is to free people, by embedding the means to solve problems in the things around us.”
January 1, 2001 David Brock, co-director of MIT’s Auto-ID Center, writes in a white paper titled “The Electronic Product Code (EPC): A Naming Scheme for Physical Objects”: “For over twenty-ﬁve years, the Universal Product Code (UPC or ‘bar code’) has helped streamline retail checkout and inventory processes… To take advantage of [the Internet’s] infrastructure, we propose a new object identiﬁcation scheme, the Electronic Product Code (EPC), which uniquely identiﬁes objects and facilitates tracking throughout the product life cycle.”
March 18, 2002 Chana Schoenberger and Bruce Upbin publish “The Internet of Things” in Forbes. They quote Kevin Ashton of MIT’s Auto-ID Center: “We need an internet for things, a standardized way for computers to understand the real world.”
April 2002 Jim Waldo writes in “Virtual Organizations, Pervasive Computing, and an Infrastructure for Networking at the Edge,” in theJournal of Information Systems Frontiers: “…the Internet is becoming the communication fabric for devices to talk to services, which in turn talk to other services. Humans are quickly becoming a minority on the Internet, and the majority stakeholders are computational entities that are interacting with other computational entities without human intervention.”
June 2002 Glover Ferguson, chief scientist for Accenture, writes in “Have Your Objects Call My Objects” in theHarvard Business Review: “It’s no exaggeration to say that a tiny tag may one day transform your own business. And that day may not be very far off.”
January 2003 Bernard Traversat et al. publish “Project JXTA-C: Enabling a Web of Things” in HICSS ’03 Proceedings of the 36th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. They write: “The open-source Project JXTA was initiated a year ago to specify a standard set of protocols for ad hoc, pervasive, peer-to-peer computing as a foundation of the upcoming Web of Things.”
October 2003 Sean Dodson writes in the Guardian: ”Last month, a controversial network to connect many of the millions of tags that are already in the world (and the billions more on their way) was launched at the McCormick Place conference centre on the banks of Lake Michigan. Roughly 1,000 delegates from across the worlds of retail, technology and academia gathered for the launch of the electronic product code (EPC) network. Their aim was to replace the global barcode with a universal system that can provide a unique number for every object in the world. Some have already started calling this network ‘the internet of things’.”
August 2004 Science-fiction writer Bruce Sterling introduces the concept of “Spime” at SIGGRAPH, describing it as “a neologism for an imaginary object that is still speculative. A Spime also has a kind of person who makes it and uses it, and that kind of person is somebody called a ‘Wrangler.’ … The most important thing to know about Spimes is that they are precisely located in space and time. They have histories. They are recorded, tracked, inventoried, and always associated with a story… In the future, an object’s life begins on a graphics screen. It is born digital. Its design specs accompany it throughout its life. It is inseparable from that original digital blueprint, which rules the material world. This object is going to tell you – if you ask – everything that an expert would tell you about it. Because it WANTS you to become an expert.”