‘Internet of Things’ allows computers to sense Independently

Austin Bell, Technology Editor, Puma Press

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Many people oversleep. If there is one emotion that you are feeling at that moment of waking up, it is extreme anxiety about taking a shower or making breakfast or coffee and just eventually stepping out of your home looking like a well respected and hygienic member of society.

Even after that, there are still various options to weigh, like the flow of traffic or parking, just to see if you can make it time to your required destination.

This is where the term “Internet of things” or “IoT” for short comes into play. Imagine a system of interconnected devices that can talk to each other. This would be through a giant network or cloud servers and sensors built into the devices themselves. The true intention of such a network would be to eventually have these devices ebb and flow towards and away from each other and automatically do our time management for us. Now, if we use the first example in the beginning of the story about how we might have overslept for school or an important meeting, our connected devices could helps us prepare faster without the need for human interaction. Your alarm clock could wake you up and then the clock could tell your coffee maker to start boiling your coffee, and then the coffee maker could start your shower and cut it off so you don’t stay in too long, and so on and so forth. These devices will always work together until you reach your destination.

The Internet of Things today is still somewhat in its infancy, slowly growing but still trying to realize its potential. Those who want to see it grow want a system in place that is both ubiquitous and invisible, that works on a personal scale and a grander one, powering our metropolitan cities.

Early Days of The Internet of Things

Before the Internet of Things even existed as it does today, a colossal clump of ideas and websites smashed together so that we now talk trade and buy ideas from each other online. The best way to describe the level and power of the Internet of things is to quote the man who coined the name himself. Kevin Ashton a British technological expert and tech entrepreneur came up with the name in 1999. In an email interview conducted by the Smithsonian Magazine, he gave a perfect example of how the Internet of Things will change how we interact with the machines of the 20th century in the 21st century.

“In the twentieth century, computers were brains without senses—they only knew what we told them,” said Ashton. “That was a huge limitation: there is many billion times more information in the world than people could possibly type in through a keyboard or scan with a barcode. In the twenty-first century, because of the Internet of Things, computers can sense things for themselves.”

 

Right now in 2016, you could say we are in the early days of the Internet of Things. One of the biggest things that have increased our autonomy is smartphones. They have grown into an almost new appendage for a fully-grown adult. Right now, your smartphone is one the biggest Internet of Things devices. It has up to 10 sensors in place that can capture location, weather conditions and device orientation. Another example of smart phones capturing information is the rise of wearable technology, such as an Apple watch or Fitbit watch. These devices can connect to a computer and phone and can transmit structured readable data back to you without your having to moderate and manually program.

Creating the Perfect Storm

While the smartphone has been on of the biggest factors helping the Internet of Things take off, there is still much more groundwork to be laid. To create the so-called perfect storm, there needs to be a decrease in terms of money used to create new technological innovations but at the same time an increase in broadband Internet capability and Wi-Fi usage.

With a key understanding of how to achieve the perfect storm the next step would be widespread adoption. I would be down in waves from personal adoption then, connected cars and homes and eventually metropolitan cities.

The Good, Bad and Ugly

For every potential technological breakthrough that we achieve, there is a set of pros and cons that we have to look at. The potential pros can be huge, health monitoring, smarter environments and a wealth of job sectors, such as automobile and industrial sectors, could get a huge boost in manufacturing processes. With sensors and a strong broadband connection, we can also check on individuals who have urgent health problems. We could also use the Internet of things to help with the speed of addressing emergencies. The same can be said for making smarter environments. In a time where a natural disaster, whether we know it’s coming or not, IoT could help us get prepared faster and much earlier so there wouldn’t be as many injuries and casualties.

The three biggest concerns when using IoT could end up being compatibility, safety, and the biggest one of all — privacy and loss of data. Right now there is no standard rule or law for compatibility. That undermines the whole idea of IoT being about connected devices. Safety and privacy are the two biggest deciding factors on whether this can take off or stay grounded forever. Imagine a nightmare scenario of the sensors shutting down at the wrong time, or a hacker with malicious intent who can shut down a critical system at a time of important need like a natural disaster. There is also the question of how much technology do we need to have in a lifetime? Are we becoming over dependent on it.

What awaits us when the IoT achieves breakthrough and widespread usage and success may be unknown, but it’s up to society to have the capacity to understand the power and responsibility that goes hand in hand with IotT and to choose the correct path before there are any irreversible consequences.

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‘Internet of Things’ allows computers to sense Independently