Facebook itself has been playing with this kind of thing – personal location – for a while. We’re all familiar with the various “check in” services, but the internet of things is something much more.

All attendees of the f8 developer conference are receiving special RFID tags that enable them to check-in to various locations throughout the conference venue. The service lets you tag yourself in photos, become a fan of various Facebook Pages, and share activity to your Facebook profile. While it’s still a concept service, it’s interesting to see some of the things that Facebook developers are currently testing

[From Facebook Tests Location Through RFID AT f8]

Is this just the same as messing about with FourSquare or Facebook Places? I think not. Bernhard Warner, editor of Social Media Influencer puts it very nicely.

Location-based services take either a lot of time — you have to manually check in everywhere you go — or take a lot of liberties — you open up your personal information to businesses.

If RFID checks you in and out automatically, then the web will certainly “take a lot of liberties” (although this may well be what people want). But this is just about the location of people. What will happen when the location of things becomes part of the natural order?

I happened to be chairing a panel at IIR’s M2M Business Exchange event in London recently, and I have to say that I was surprised by the range of organisations that came along. I’d assumed that it would be mainly hardware guys and telcos, but the sessions that they had on smart metering, remote healthcare, retail and so forth were actually discussing some quite diverse applications. Naturally, I was on the lookout for things that might make a business for our customers, so I was focused on the applications that demand more security, such as payments.

ETSI, the telecoms standards body, has been working on what they call SES, which stands for “Service Enablement Services” to form a standard layer between the internet of things and the value-added services to sit above them. Joachim Koss, the TC M2M Vice Chairman said that the standard would include security “tools”, which obviously I would like to see as including fully-functional digital money and digital identity elements because this connects to my somewhat simplistic definition: smart pipe = dumb pipe + digital identity + digital money.

I think this is the right approach, provided that the SES layer contains rich enough services to provide for a proper spectrum of identity types (that is, it does not require the full disclosure of “real identity” or allow uncontrolled anonymity). Another advantage that I can see is that if mobile operators were to get their act together, they might be able to use the SES in combination with a secure token (in the UICC) to make a business from it: for example, I might want to choose an option on my phone which means that my location is visible to anyone on LinkedIn provided they work for Consult Hyperion, and then temporarily extend this to a client for a month in connection with a project, but allow my wife to see it via Facebook at all times, that sort of thing. It would be another example of a value-added service that could, when built in to the infrastructure of other more sophisticated value-added services, generate much more income than raw data.

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

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