I was thinking recently about the President’s stated goal to bring mobile broadband to 98% of Americans in five years – not just from the standpoint of network coverage, but also the detailed level of how Americans could benefit from it in terms of applications for healthcare, public safety and other uses.

It’s not a far stretch to go from a doctor using Skype to have a video consultation with a patient who is in a remote area or unable to travel today to doctors providing patients with diagnostic tools that patients use in their homes and can automatically communicate back to the doctor’s office via SMS without the patient doing anything in the near future. People can already keep tabs on their blood pressure using their iPhone and use ‘smart’ pill bottles that provide reminders to take medications, so we’re well on our way.

This move to a world of proliferating connected devices goes by different names – the ‘Internet of things’, the ‘invisible web’ or its more common nickname: M2M (machine-to-machine) communications.

Aside from sounding like something from a Terminator movie, this trend will be a major driver of performance networking and cloud services as the sheer number of devices connecting and communicating across networks will ramp up considerably and will require even more applications, storage and other content hosted and delivered from the cloud and cloud services (with appropriate security, QoS, etc).

Will we get to the point where I have an Internet-connected refrigerator in my home than can automatically sense if I need milk, eggs or other staples based on its own sensors and then automatically text me a shopping list of needed items when I walk into the grocery store (based on geo-location info on my smartphone)? I hope so, because I always forget to make a list!