This is the third in a series of articles that covers some of the topics that we predict will dominate tech and media this year. This one is all about tech: futuristic, intimate and sometimes whacky. It?s the Internet of Things, also known by its awkward acronym, IoT.

My colleague, Tommy Hadges, covered some of the things that impressed him the most about this year?s Consumer Electronics Show. As he pointed out, there are fewer and fewer brand new consumer electronic entertainment things that debut at the show, due to the absence of a number of tech/entertainment giants. But the lifestyle component, featuring Jetsons-like connected devices, continues to flourish at CES.

Part of the charm of the Internet of Things is trying to come up with the most far-fetched example of inanimate (non-entertainment, security, or communications) devices that connect to the net. For example: Smart medical devices such as an electronic pain reliever, or various LED light bulbs that double as security cameras, Wi-Fi extenders and audio speakers.

But perhaps the most significant part of the Internet of Things now is not so much the things themselves as the protocols. Samsung, for example, in its keynote at CES, pledged to keep its connected-device protocols open so that its devices can talk to other manufacturers? devices.

And one of the things we?ll be hearing a lot about this year is a new wireless protocol, called ?WiGig,? a wireless technology that uses the 60 gigahertz radio frequency to deliver wireless speeds more than 10 times faster than the fastest current Wi-Fi networks. The new protocol is designed to facilitate faster distribution of high quality video, but it will also have other basic home applications. Samsung plans to build this capability into its connected, smart home products.

Re/code has just put together a concise overview of IoT. It covers some of the products that are already available, as well as some of the roadblocks, including security and privacy concerns. And someday, in the not-so-distant future, those awkward spaces at your dinner party may be filled by your connected Crock Pot humming along softly to your Sony Symphonic Light.

– Pat WelshPrint