Connected Devices, Or More Outlets


This week’s translation looks into the state of the state of “connected devices,” meaning things in your life that want an Internet connection: PCs, of course, and smart phones, e-readers and iPads.

Pretty soon, lots of TVs, too: By next year, it will be difficult to purchase an HDTV that doesn’t come with an Ethernet or Wi-Fi link. Ditto for the expected onslaught of iPad-like tablets, plumbed with Android.

To get a better sense of scope, I put out a Facebook post last week with this request: “OK, fellow geeks, time for this query again: How many IP devices in your home right now, per room?”

At press time, 57 responses had piled up a cornucopia of gadgetry.

The winner, for total number of gadgets, screens and overall IP stuff in his house: Steve R., with 33.

His count: Three Wi-Fi cell phones, four laptops, two desktop PCs, two MoCA adapters, a voice-over-Internet protocol adapter, an alarm system, a router and a cable modem. Two dual-port NAS (network attached storage) servers, a GigE (Gigabit Ethernet) switch, a Linux server, a PlayStation 2, a Nintendo Wii video-game console. Two Blu-ray Disc players, a Netgear video player and a set-top with an Ethernet (thus IP) port.

“So,” he wrote, “at least 33 MAC addresses, capable of IP.” (For the observant who noticed the number discrepancy - some of his connected devices have more than one IP address.)

As far connected devices per room, Steve R.’s count is about six per (not including bathrooms, he noted). Yes, that’s a lot. But Steve’s a technologist and early adopter. His world is a reasonable portent of where things are going.

Here’s a sampling of other IP-thirsty gadgets listed: Digital picture frames. Webcams. Network printers. Game consoles, like the Xbox, PlayStation and Wii. Netbooks. Externallyconnected over-the-top video players, like Roku and Apple TV. Advanced set-tops, meaning those with a built-in DOCSIS modem.

The oddest connectible device listed: A “squeezebox,” posted by Mark F. Turns out he didn’t mean an accordion with an Internet connection; it’s a networked music player made by Logitech.

The most amusing post came from Bill M., who wondered if the ID chip inside his dog counted. (It doesn’t, Bill.)

On average, most people had a total of 10 connectable devices in their home, and roughly two per room.

The good news is, all of those connected devices are getting Internet from somewhere, right?

Chances are high that in the home, it’s that cable-modem connection.

And for that reason, this glut of connected devices is starting to feel a lot like what we used to call “additional outlets.”