IoT: Internet of Things.
The phrase was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 but in reality, the idea dates back even further in time. The Internet of Things is the communication or the exchange of data between physical items that have an on/off switch and connect to the internet. Data is collected and shared to other connected devices through sensors and without human interference. IoT currently encompasses about 20 billion devices from pills to jets to coffee machines and most things in between. In the next few years, an estimated 50 billion devices will be online and interacting with one another.
While IoT may seem like a buzz word, the facts are, it is destined to have more of an impact on your everyday life than you may think. The Internet is more available and affordable than it ever has been and most devices have WiFi capabilities. In 2018, 89% of the adult US population (ages 18+) accessed the internet. This means that IoT is ready to explode.
Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Both.
Efficiency is starting to take on a whole new meaning. As IoT develops, it may mean that your coffee pot will be able to take cues from your morning alarm on what time it should start to brew. It means that retailers may never need to do inventory, as data sensors will be able to order items as needed. It means smart cities (we see you, ATL!) and cars, which means less waste and more energy conservation. The connections and possibilities are endless.
So, what could go wrong?
Security and privacy. With so many data exchanges happening between devices, it basically seems like a hackers playground. The fear that data will be accessible through any connected device aka your toaster is a real possibility. Compatibility is also a worry as there is not an international standard of compatibility between manufacturers. Once there is a technology that connects all of the different entities, one outage or disruption within the system could be devastating.
And while there is always the futuristic concern of technology taking over jobs and decreasing human interaction, we continue to make great strides to advance technology and IoT because in most ways we believe it is what’s best for the future.