The IoT industry needs some help—and the solution might be better storytelling. In the same way you strive to give agency to a character in a story or empower a person playing a game, the design challenges facing IoT could be considered a question of agency. We should shift our focus from making smart devices that feel enchanted to making these objects enchanting. By empowering users to create their own stories around IoT devices, you leave room for them to shape their own narratives.

For example, the Walt Disney Company has spent over a billion dollars developing its RFID-powered, IoT-connected bracelet known as the “Magic Band.” Designed to customize a child’s, adult’s, or a whole family’s journey through a Disney park, the device grants the wearer unique opportunities to interact with parts of the park, access VIP services, meet favorite characters, while also acting as a digital wallet and even opening your room door if you stay at a partner hotel. However, the real value for Disney is in the data it gathers with each wave of the Magic Band: The company is able to capture, track, and analyze guest behavior, which allows it to present park patrons with a personalized experience that feels magical to them.

An enchanted object becomes exponentially more valuable when the person yielding it has agency to make it enchanting. As Rowling says, “It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us.”

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.