Originally appeared on Digital River

The Shoes of the Future
Last year I backed a Kickstarter project called runScribe, a little connected device you clip to your running shoes. It tracks extremely fine-grained information about how I run, stores and analyzes the data in the cloud, and visualizes that information to help me run faster and with fewer injuries.

At the vanguard of the “Internet of Things,” the runScribe promises to be an amazing device, and I can’t wait until mine arrives. But as Digital River’s vice president of solution innovation, I see something even more amazing in the future. What if intelligence and connectivity weren’t confined to a little doodad attached to my tennis shoes, but actually built into every pair? What if my shoes could actually replace themselves when they wore out, sending me a new pair in the mail at just the right time? What if, rather than just reporting on my world, my running shoes could actually take action—with my permission and on my behalf?

What is the Commerce of Things?

The Internet of Things gets a lot of press, and rightly so: according to Morgan Stanley, 75 billion individual objects will be connected to the Internet by 2020. Already, this proliferation of connectivity is transforming the way we relate to our physical environment and changing industries in profound ways. But the world of connected devices is still in its infancy. So far, companies are still largely focused on getting their devices connected to the Internet—and inventing ways to manage the exponentially increasing amounts of data those devices generate. But connected devices and “big data” are merely curiosities if they don’t make human lives easier. We are just starting to glimpse the transformative potential of the Internet of Things.

At Digital River, we believe that the Internet of Things will lead inevitably to the Commerce of Things—a new paradigm of business in which connected objects will mediate commercial transactions by themselves. In the future, the objects we use will start to free us from the tedious and costly business of replacing the things in our lives that get used up or worn out or spoiled. They will do this by themselves, with our permission and on our behalf, in order to make our lives better.

And we’ll be glad they do. It might seem a little unsettling to imagine that our stuff will engage in commercial transactions without our intervention. In my next post, I’ll share some of the advantages of the Commerce of Things. But for right now, I want to know what you think. What possibilities do you predict for the future of connected devices?

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