The Internet of Things (IoT) is a current buzzword. It describes the network of physical devices of any kind (cars, TV sets, watches, garments, food packaging, etc), which are embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity to enable them (i) to collect and exchange data (ii) to be uniquely identifiable and addressable and/or (iii) to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure. In the narrowest sense, IoT covers only devices with their own IP address. In a wider and more meaningful sense, however, IoT includes devices that exchange data via other protocols (such as Bluetooth) and connect to the Internet by way of a bridge. Although ambient intelligence and autonomous control are often associated with IoT, they are not essential features of every device that is part of the IoT.
The market value of IoT in the EU could potentially exceed one trillion euros in 2020, and in March 2015 an Alliance for Internet of Things Innovation (AIOTI) was initiated. Intuition suggests that the emergence of IoT must have a profound impact also on the law of contract. However, hardly anyone has so far spelt out the exact implications and what is required in order to make contract law fit for the 21st century in general and IoT in particular. In this chapter, it will be argued that, despite the fact that a technologically neutral attitude towards contract law is preferable, the emergence of smart things and IoT calls for some new rules and new concepts.
Wendehorst, Christiane, Consumer Contracts and the Internet of Things, in Schulze and Staudenmayer (eds), Digital Revolution: Challenges for Contract Law in Practice (2016) 189-223.