Myriam Joire & Pebble: safeguarding the future of the internet of things

myriam“I think the internet of things is something that’s definitely coming, but is at the same time more at risk than other things because it requires standards and openness and interoperability,” explains Myriam Joire, evangelist for maverick smart watch maker Pebble.

There can be something downright robotic about the corporate spokesperson/“evangelist”, paid to articulate opinions that may or may not be their own. No such danger here: Joire (speaking ahead of her keynote appearance at this month’s Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, where the IoT promises to the very definition of a hot topic) sounds sincerely simpatico with her employer – 

“We all need to put our greed aside in order to make this happen,” she continues. “We need to think of the big picture and the long term repercussions of what we’re doing, rather than the immediate short-term profit. That’s my approach and I think in general Pebble’s approach in terms of wanting to be a player in the field. What makes Pebble super-unique is that it really comes from this open, DIY, hacker background.That gives us principles, and really defies a lot of what you see in this silo type ecosystem that apps on Google are slowly creating…”

Prior to joining Pebble, Joire was well-known as the senior mobile editor at Engadget. “I’ve been following computers since the very first personal computers were kits that you could build and solder together. I really got excited about mobile phones because they were a computer in my pocket.” So, when she came across Pebble – “a computer on your wrist” – she was instantly enthusiastic, and actually broke the story of its maverick origins (it raised over $10 million in start-up money from Kickstarter).

And, having written, about Pebble, Joire quickly became an aficionado.

“It really changed my life because, as a journalist getting a thousand emails a day, Pebble let me further filter and surface the important things. Messages from the my spouse and my friends, things that were starting to take a backseat because of my busy, busy schedule, finally surfaced on my wrist as notifications and really made the product super compelling to me. Getting to know people’s habits, knowing their location, knowing a whole bunch of other things about them – this will make for smarter notifications.”

Joire’s emphasis on the contemporary significance of notifications is striking. She calls them, “the modern RSS feed of your life,” and insists that there’s significant benefit to having them appear in such an immediately visible, accessible way via Pebble.

“Ultimately your notification could be a piece of news, and it could be something that leads you to make a decision. It could also be an informative thing – like, there’s a traffic accident up ahead. I think there’s a huge context there that people gain from having instant access to it on their wrists, without having to dig around for their phone, which oftentimes is in their purse or hidden away. I think overall what really compels me is the fact that we’re simplifying people’s lives.”

Meanwhile the underlying point remains that Pebble should and could be one of a myriad of innovations that, taken together, will hugely simplify human life (and that will collectively be known as “the internet of things”).

Which brings us back to the ‘but’…

“If people have to buy everything from Apple or from Google then it’s not going to be beneficial to anyone. It’s not going to be beneficial to the economy, it’s not going to be beneficial to technology – to the progress of technology, to innovation. Unfortunately I think we’re heading that way, more and more. There’s less diversity in the tech ecosystem than ever. The innovation gets stifled by big companies either acquiring or subverting really great things that happen out there.”

It will be interesting to see how Joire’s message (something between a sales-pitch and a warning) is received at the Broadband World Forum later this month…

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