A few days ago, we got a note from our power company indicating that they were going to upgrade the metering equipment that they use to estimate and bill us on consumption for. The new equipment will be wireless- a passing by truck will be able to scan readings without having the driver exit, or even stop the vehicle. This probably saves the power company a lot of money- the time expended in measuring how much power I'm consuming drops down dramatically, leading to a higher productivity level for this job through automation. There's probably a savings in energy expended since the vehicles moving people to these metering locations will be using a lot less gas- no more start/rev up/stop/start/rev up/stop, but probably a leisurely drive through the neighborhood. Multiply that by thousands of starts and stops and vehicles, and you've got a lot coin in the bank.
If my house, and everyone else's house had an assumed internet connection, the power company might approach this problem differently. Say that everyone's house had some sort of assumed internet connectivity (like a 110 Volt three-prong outlet, or some wireless capacity). In that case, the power company would probably have left me a note indicating that the new metering equipment would serve their data on demand, or maybe periodically, or maybe even constantly, via a secure connection to the internet.
This letter, and others like it cry out for moving us into an age where reasonable connectivity is deemed an infrastructural necessity. This might seem like a reach, but in a world where data points tend to be of immense value, surely an assumed infrastructure for moving data is of value too?
Urban areas seem to be benefiting from the prevalence of broadband infrastructure. Still, there aren't too many manufacturers that can assume that a data connection exists as simply as say a socket to a bulb. Most of the products that make this assumption are purely internet related. Still, some newer ones are setting precedent (Blu-Ray devices, Digital Photo Frames, and the like). Not too many that resemble a power consumption meter though. Do you know of any that break the mold?
Perhaps the advent of these sorts of devices will spur the adoption of an assumed connected infrastructure. Perhaps the assumed infrastructure will spur the growth of those devices? Maybe seeing them crop up in urban areas will show people what sort of innovation lies in store for us if we can let manufacturers assume an internet connection as easily as they assume a power plug.
Meanwhile, I wait for my ISP to figure out when it would like to provide me with broadband access. The strange reality is that I'm only 20 miles away from my ISPs headquarters.