2012: The Year When Everything Got Connected

I'm not sure exactly when it happened but some time in the past 12 months everything got connected.

So now we don't just have a home automation system which can control the lights and the heating. We have a network which connects the hi-fi, the music collection, the television... And almost everything can be controlled not just from remote controls in the room but also from iOS or Android apps running on phones or tablets. Bored with my choice of music? Just pick up your phone or tablet and change it.

Where we're heading?
Not long ago, if you wanted to use a computer you went to a special desk, switched it on and sat there until the work was finished. More recently, small laptops made it easier so you could check your emails from the comfort of the sofa.

Now, quite suddenly, the 'traditional' computers at the heart of all of this are just the donkeys, doing the heavy-duty processing and automatically directing the traffic around our home network which - almost unbelievably - has over 30 devices connected. Yet only one of these is a traditional computer with separate screen and keyboard. Most of the others are specialised devices such as tablets, e-book readers, media streamers, hi-fi units and phones. And all of the devices are directly accessible across the internet.

The real 'man-machine interface' is increasingly through tablets and phones which provide an extra layer between us and the network infrastructure. Tablets are so fast and intuitive and don't seem at all out of place in the living room so increasingly our laptops stay in our briefcases in the evening. And that's no bad thing.

Is it time for the fridge, the toaster, the washing machine and the front door to get connected to the internet? Probably not. Yet. Maybe next year.