I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “the internet of things” before. It is a more modern term, and extremely vague upon first blush. What is the internet of things, and how does it apply to today’s technology?
You might be surprised to hear the phrase is as old as 1982, with a self-reporting vending machine that tracked all of its products and their current conditions. With how prevalent the term is with more advanced technology, like vacuum cleaners that memorize optimal routes around your house, this may come as a bit of a shock.
Put simply, the phrase “internet of things” refers to any hardware that is not a computer that contains sensors, computing processes, and software that all interact with each other over the internet. The word “internet” here may seem a bit misleading; these devices do not need to link to the public domain, merely an internal network that can interface with other devices on said network.
IoT Product Development
Now that I’ve described it, you probably have an idea of what I’m talking about. Your in-home security, your voice-activated speakers, and your timed dishwasher, it’s all part of this internet of things. Not so daunting now, is it?
Your “smart home”, as people like to call it these days, is constantly listening, constantly adapting to your wants and needs. It’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of as a kid; the future is now, and it’s in your living room, under your TV, and mounted at your front door.
Indeed, the majority of the IoT industry comes about with security products like easy-install doorbell cameras, and convenience tools like your automated vacuum cleaner. Some of the devices included can feel a little silly at times – like, who needs an internet-activated juicer? Still, it’s undeniable that the convenience and peace of mind provided by a lot of these products is undeniably amazing.
You might be surprised to find the internet of things in your toilet. That’s right, advanced enough toilets can measure your biometrics just by having you pop a squat. As funny as that sounds, this is actually a really good thing. People who need their health regularly checked, such as the elderly or disabled, may find it a lot less invasive to have a computer in their toilet to check their blood pressure, rather than having to participate in weekly doctors’ visits.
Some fields of thought even consider advancements such as centralized fire alarms to be part of the internet of things. They are, after all, devices that are not computers that connect to a central information-sharing network. In more modern buildings doors that automatically close and lock, along with elevators that automatically shut down, at the threat of fire are commonplace, and certainly included in the internet of things.
Most of this bewildering technology is right at users’ fingertips, as it can all be controlled via your phone or smartwatch. As mentioned before, some of it is even voice-activated, which is… not a little concerning. Privacy has become a pressing concern of IoT critics, and the lack of regulation in security is definitely something to look out for. While many of these devices are made by well-known and heavily investigated companies, some are created by those with less savory intent.
Another issue is that with the wide variety of products produced by an even wider variety of developers, IoT product development is not synchronized. This means that your automated coffee maker, scheduled to pour out a cup of joe every morning at six a.m., does not function on the same app as your automatic toaster, which pops out a quick breakfast for you at exactly six-fifteen. With so many products, this becomes a hassle, and your phone’s home screen starts looking more and more cluttered, removing a lot of the convenience.
Still, despite those flaws, there’s a lot to be said for the upsides. The internet of things is expanding into every field imaginable, and while that automatic coffee makes or automatic toasters might not be a reality yet, they’re certainly well on their way. Oh, but I still don’t quite understand the point of the juicer.
There’s a lot that goes into the internet of things, and a lot that you can get out of it. Silicon Valley has started its expansion into every sphere imaginable, and it’s only a matter of time before your home starts looking like something from The Jetsons. It might seem quite intimidating at first, but soon you’ll forget why you were ever worried. You can find a lot of comfort in modern amenities, and now futuristic amenities are joining them. Whether it’s food prep, general upkeep, or intruder prevention, you can find something linked to the internet of things to suit your needs. Keep an eye and an ear out for all the newest products because the newest products are doing the same for you.