The world is still mostly divided between online and offline. You have a life on the web, on Facebook, or whatever. Then, you have your stuff. One day, perhaps, we'll have an "internet of things," where literally everything is connected to the network. But it hasn't quite happened yet.
In the meantime, we have something like Qipp, which just launched in Switzerland. Qipp is a digital "companion for all the things you care about." It lets you create a record of stuff, download information about it, manage services like insurance and warranties, and share items with friends or groups. "It's like a social network of things," says Stefan Zanetti, Qipp's CEO.
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By adding items to your profile on Qipp, you are giving them a digital identity, Zanetti says. That potentially makes them more useful (because you know more about them) and opens up communication between customer and manufacturer. "The user gets a more intelligent bicycle and the manufacturer gets to learn more about their customers," he says. "At the moment, manufacturers produce great products but they lose contact with customers after that."
It's also a way of alerting a community to what you have. For example, you might be willing to share a drill or some mountaineering equipment. You can make that item public, and let select people know—for example, fellow climbers or DIY fans.
Qipp, which recently picked up a prize at the Lift conference in Geneva, plans to add more services in the next few months, including the ability to value a product, and speak to an expert about it. It's not exactly the "internet of things," but it's a start.