The internet of things is a phrase that has been thrown around for several years, but does anybody really know what it means? The cost of making technology has been decreasing for years now, coupled with the increasing power of smartphones and accessible broadband then everything in our lives is becoming more connected. Many of our devices are capable of connecting to the wifi in our homes, meaning things like kettles, central heating, even our doors can be controlled via the internet.
Simply, if a device has an on /off switch it can be a part of the internet of things. That’s why we are seeing more and more household products capable of connecting to our other devices. The internet of things is a global network of devices all interconnected to each other, able to be controlled by people remotely. Not only devices but also the individual components within them can be controlled, so you could, in theory, change the way your car drives, or how quickly a drill works on an oil rig remotely.
Why is that a good thing?
You might be reading this and wondering why having all of these devices connected is such a good thing, after all, we’ve been getting along fine without them being connected so far. As the internet of things begins to take over our lives, it will make them infinitely more convenient. If you have a meeting to get to across town your car can connect with your calendar to know when you need to get there and the best route for you to take. Or if you set your alarm to go off for 7am, your coffee maker can start a brew just in time for you to get up and have it as fresh as possible, without having to go down and make it yourself.
The internet of things will allow us to have smarter cities, where the infrastructure can respond to the ebb and flow of daily life. These futuristic cities will be able to help reduce waste and become more energy efficient. We will be able to have smart traffic signals and roads, able to communicate with our phones to warn us about weather and congestion areas, helping to reroute us to a safer path. Find it hard to get a parking space in the city? Smart parking will be able to monitor where the free spaces are, all you’ll have to do is set your GPS to that location, and you’ll find a spot without having to drive around for an hour waiting to discover one.
The possibilities are only limited by our imagination, but there are some concerns about safety. For instance, your phone might have the latest software to prevent it from being hacked, but will your coffee machine have the same defense? Can someone hack into your coffee machine and therefore access your entire network of devices, including your phone and computer? Then there is the issue of data protection that will have to be tackled when millions of devices are sharing information with publicly shared networks.
The internet of things promises to make our lives so much more convenient but also will be able to improve the services that many cities and towns are struggling to keep on top of. Will the issue of security and data protection put a stop to it becoming the way we live our lives? Only time will tell, but it looks as though it is only going to be more prominent in society the more technology advances.