As a kid you have wondered how the heck the refrigerator knew to shut off the light when the door closed. Was there a little gnome in there whose sole purpose was to monitor this? And where did he go when the door opened? If your parents were jerks, maybe this myth was perpetuated for far too long, when they could have just pointed out the push button on the door frame.
Our world is exponentially more complicated and automated now than when you grew up, even if you can't rent a car yet, and it's all connected by the Internet of Things, the midichlorians of the machine world. The only constant is that kids ask questions--constantly. Imagine trying to explain to a four-year-old how you can control your fridge now from your phone, or how you can command your AI personal assistant to turn on the air-conditioning or play music.
IBM's most prolific female inventor, software engineer Lisa Seacat DeLuca, did. The result was a colorful book full of yeti, leprechauns and fairies who run our machines behind-the scenes. It doesn't just teach kids about IoT. It is IoT, because the included NFC stickers allow parents to interact with the book via a smart device.
"The Internet of Mysterious Things is probably one of the nerdiest children's books," says DeLuca, who launched the book on Kickstarter in late January. "I like to say it's the children's book with a touch of technology, because you can tap on the hidden creatures on each page to launch more information about the story."
So now your kids will think an invisible man controls your Nest thermostat and a diligent fairy inhabits your Amazon Echo...until you go online and get the real story, distilled for a younger audience by one of the world's foremost authorities of software engineering, and busiest mothers, with two sets of twins.