The Internet of Things (IoT), with its ever-expanding presence, is increasingly becoming a hot topic in homes of the future. It is indeed an extremely powerful concept-turned-reality that can impact our working styles at offices as well as our living standards within the comfort of our own homes. IoT depends on machine-to-machine connections and aims to ‘smarten up’ everything in our lives: from the thermostat in your bedroom to the streetlights in the neighborhood, and even the city’s largest seaports. With Broadband internet becoming easily accessible to one and all at much lower costs and the Wi-Fi enabled devices becoming more prominent in the smartphone market, the world is brimming with loads of potential for IoT. So is it really the ‘next big thing’ or is it not worth all the buzz surrounding it? Let’s delve a little deeper.
- What exactly is the Internet of Things?:
The concept of IoT was first introduced in 1989 when an internet connected toaster was unveiled in a conference. Since its conceptualization, it has been discussed at great lengths among the tech analysts and corporations alike. To put it in its simplest form, IoT is nothing but a connection of multiple computational devices, objects, humans, animals, digital or mechanical machines all communicating via the internet, enabling them to learn who we are, who everyone else connected to the web is, and various applications. One of the most common examples of this can be a smart fridge, one that can tell that your cheese is stale or you’re low on lunch meat, simply by looking at its expiration date with its internally installed cameras or force sensors to determine the meat’s weight, and notify you via a screen on the front panel or alerting your phone.
- IoT Applications in today’s world:
When it comes to household applications, for example in Britain, the government has been persistently stressing energy companies to introduce smart meters. These meters employ IoT to let the user control heating remotely and turn it on and off depending on the usage. It’s not just limited to smart appliances and smart homes; IoT today, has magnified to include smart cities as well. In smart cities, IoT can assist in managing transportation, reducing waste and monitoring crop growth in agriculture. In the future, the IoT connected cars can save lives by sending real-time data about a wreck’s location and intensity to the emergency support teams. This technology can also integrate GPS with related online applications to act in accordance with the driver’s preferences such as traffic alerts, routing, fuel pricing etc.
This futuristic technology is definitely here to stay and will eventually make our mundane tasks more exciting (at least for a little while) while saving us a lot of time and resources. But, before we blindly embrace IoT in our everyday lives and invest our riches into the field, let’s take an unbiased look at its potential.
- Advantages of IoT
- The more information is available to us, the easier it becomes to make better decisions in day to day life. From seemingly mundane tasks such as knowing your updated grocery list to keeping track of materials that a vendor supplies to your enterprise, IoT can have you covered ubiquitously.
- IoT can cut down manufacturing and production costs for business owners by automating the entire process, thus, saving money and time. A portion of these savings can, in turn, be transferred to the consumers as they will get to purchase new technologically enhanced products at cheaper rates, thereby, increasing the standards of living,
- It can help monitor and identify health issues. Parameters such as blood pressure and heart rate can be monitored and the data can be sent to the concerned doctor for analysis.
- Disadvantages of IoT:
- One of the major setbacks associated with IoT can be a loss of privacy and security since a lot of information related to household appliances, travel and transportation data, industrial and digital machinery etc. is prone to attack by the hackers. Lessons should be learned from the recent massive attack on the Internet infrastructure company Dyn, that posed problems for Internet users in the US and Europe, disabling a plethora of sites including giants such as Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, and Amazon. Such a serious incident should force the tech industry to brace the security of their networks. Emerging geo-fencing technology can be used to rebuild the boundaries of information sharing and bar IoT from accessing sensitive applications or data.
- Also, IoT can cause over-reliance of humans on technology which has its own detrimental effects. Younger generations are growing up with a much easier accessibility of resources over the internet and a technological glitch can cause a catastrophic situation if we become too dependent on IoT even for our simple day-to-day chores or decision-making. Even a small power failure can cause chaos and inconvenience for a lot of people.
- It could mean the end of many blue-collar, skills-related jobs in the United States with its simplification and smart measures.
- The connection of more and more devices to the internet can wreck the employment prospects of less-skilled workers and force them to survive hand to mouth.
So, in conclusion, there are some risks associated with this new technology (as with any new technology), but it could be a huge game changer for businesses and people fortunate enough to be able to enjoy it. We are a non-stop course towards technology dependence as a human race, so there’s no use in trying to prevent it. Our best bet is to prepare for it now and embrace it when it arrives because it will be here to stay in your lifetime.