The Internet of Things (IoT) might not be something you’re particularly familiar with but you may have heard the phrase being thrown around on the Internet, in advertising or on social media.
As strange as it sounds, with the Internet of Things, it might not be so long before your car, your fridge, your lights and even you as a person are connected to the Internet. That might sound like a scary prospect but when you consider how connected we already are with phones, tablets, laptops and more recently smart watches, it was only so long before the world took another step to become fully connected.
Here’s what you need to know about the internet of things:
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
The IoT is a network of connected ‘things’, physical objects with a smart and connected aspect. Everyday objects and appliances are being given the capability to connect to the IoT which gives them new functionality.
The idea is that everything becomes more intelligent and connected to increase productivity and efficiency. From a consumer point of view, this might mean going home in the evening and using your smartphone to turn on the lights in the house or setting the thermostat to the right temperature. It goes even further than that though and it might even include your smart, connected fridge ordering more milk for you because it can see that you’re running out.
But it also works from a manufacturer perspective and allows new remote functionality – this might be a machine manufacturer updating the software on a product to fix an issue rather than having to do a call out to fix it.
It’s a clever network that aims to make life easier for all of those connected and in the near future, everything that can be connected will be connected.
What’s the benefit of IoT?
As well as smart connected lights and fridges that order more milk, there are a lot of benefits that IoT can bring.
We can already identify examples of how it’s implemented today. For instance, when you’re near the end of your workday, your mobile phone can automatically notify you that there has been an incident on the route you usually take to get home and that allows you to plan an alternative route. Your phone knows this information from data you may have inputted or data it has picked up.
An even simpler example with your phone is weather reporting. It’s possible to set up some smartphones so that you get weather warnings such as ice, snow or fog for your local area or your current location. It’s all part of the larger network of smart products that aim to made your life easier.
Imagine a feature that allows your heating at home to be switched on when you’re 10 miles away from home so the house will be warm when you get there. The heating might be connected to your phone, or in the future, your car, so it can work based on your location.
As well as personal benefits that see us become more organised, IoT can be an efficient tool for the modern world on the fight against time and energy waste and help people be more productive.
What about the security of data?
Security is a fear in all aspects of connectivity and a smarter world – the idea being, if everything is smart and connected to the Internet, the more risk there is of something going wrong or cyber crime.
Do you have the guarantee that your information will be secure? Would someone be able to steal your valuable information by hacking your coffee machine?
Unfortunately, there isn’t necessarily an answer to this right now but as more devices and products are developed for the Internet of Things, better security will be developed.
Over the next few years, we’ll learn to use IoT efficiently, securely and keep up with the speed of evolving technologies of the modern world.