The “Internet of things” (IoT) is becoming an increasingly growing topic of conversation both in the workplace and outside of it. It’s a concept that not only has the potential to impact how we live but also how we work. But what exactly is the “Internet of things” and what impact is it going to have on you, if any?
Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig. As I mentioned, if it has an on and off switch then chances are it can be a part of the IoT.
How Does This Impact You?
Although the concept wasn’t named until 1999, the Internet of Things has been in development for decades. The first internet appliance, for example, was a Coke machine at Carnegie Melon University in the early 1980s. The programmers could connect to the machine over the internet, check the status of the machine and determine whether or not there would be a cold drink awaiting them, should they decide to make the trip down to the machine.
On a broader scale, the IoT can be applied to things like transportation networks: “smart cities” which can help us reduce waste and improve efficiency for things such as energy use; this helping us understand and improve how we work and live.
The reality is that the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can’t even think of or fully understand the impact of today. It’s not hard to see how and why the IoT is such a hot topic today; it certainly opens the door to a lot of opportunities but also to many challenges. Security is a big issue that is oftentimes brought up. With billions of devices being connected together, what can people do to make sure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network?
The IoT also opens up companies all over the world to more security threats. Then we have the issue of privacy and data sharing. This is a hot-button topic even today, so one can only imagine how the conversation and concerns will escalate when we are talking about many billions of devices being connected. Another issue that many companies specifically are going to be faced with is around the massive amounts of data that all of these devices are going to produce. Companies need to figure out a way to store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated.
Examples Of IoT In Use Today
Philips Hue Smart Bulbs. The Philips Hue lighting system is the most popular of the smart bulbs currently available. What can a smart bulb do that a regular one can’t? For one, it can change colors — the Philips Hue lights can change to any color you choose; they’ll even match the tones in a photo that you upload via the app. They can also be turned on and off on a schedule or from your smartphone, and the Hue bulbs can even be synced with your music for an awesome sound-and-light party. Other companies are starting to release smart bulbs as well, making this a more competitive niche; LIFX, Lumen, ilumi, and Belkin all have their own version of this technology. Like most other IoT smart home devices, these can help you save money on energy—as well as have a lot of fun playing around with your lights.
Apple’s HomeKit. Apple’s HomeKit allows users to communicate with and control connected accessories in their home using an app. With the HomeKit framework, you can provide a way to configure accessories and create actions to control them. Users can even group actions together and trigger them using Siri.
FitBit. A real world example of this that already exists is FitBit. The product allows the user to post the stats that the FitBit gathers from a run to their social media, essentially advertising the main benefit of the product to their friends. This massively increases the reach of the product on social media and acts as a form of social proof. Users can see their friends are using the product and are enjoying doing so, and so will be encouraged to purchase.
Tesla Motors. Tesla is known for their ground breaking electric car technology. But they also are pushing the boundaries of connecting devices. They updated all their car’s software remotely so improve performance without any inconvenience whatsoever to the consumer. Updates to physical products that happen in a similar way to the kind of updates we are now used to with the software we use will increasingly become standard and expected.
Spotify. Any application that can link to and play music from your Spotify account is another example. In the U.S. Uber and Spotify have linked their services so that customers can connect their Spotify account to their Uber app, and then when taking a ride in an Uber you can use the Uber App to play music through the car’s speakers via your Spotify account. This is two Apps talking to one another, and then talking to a car! There could hardly be a better example of the Internet of Things. It improves the customer experience and helps retain customers by getting them locked into their product ecosystem.
Samsung Washing Machines. With Samsung’s F900 Washing Machine and anywhere Smart Control, it lets you remotely control and monitor your washing from anywhere using a smartphone App. You can instantly start or pause it and monitor cycle selections, remaining time and finishing alerts. It is already available on iPhones and Android devices.
And many more…