Have you ever wanted your alarm clock to wake you up at 6am with a perfectly brewed coffee next to you?
Have you ever wished that your car would automatically email your colleagues if you were late for a meeting? Wouldn’t it be nice, if before you ran out of household staples, a push of a button could deliver them to your house the next day?
These “whats ifs” could be a reality with the Internet of Things (IoT), the growing topic of conversation that will make your day to day life a lot more convenient using interconnecting technology.
The concept has the potential to dramatically impact not only how we live, but also how we work. It is a relatively new concept, with a lot of political and technical conversation surrounding it, with many still questioning how devices could be synced up with each other effectively and securely.
So, what is the IoT concept? Broadly speaking it involves everything connected to the internet – your devices “speaking” to each other. By developing a connection between devices, we can to assist a particular task by gathering information from the connected devices, analysing it and then creating an action. Where this is most commonly used at the minute is with in-home devices e.g. the Nest Learning thermostat; this devices allows home owners to remotely control the heating in their home from the comfort of their mobile, to set it depending on the changing temperature or turn it off if no one is home.
The early stages are being most used in the home due to broadband internet being widely accessible and available, with cheaper costs and stronger internet connections. With Wi-Fi capabilities increasing and broadband being an integral part of most households, it isn’t shocking to find that along with technology costs going down, the opportunities for the IoT concept is ever increasing.
With every new step, debate is sparked. The main negative argument is that just because you’re able to connect all possible devices to the internet, doesn’t necessarily mean they should be. The connection of multiple if not unlimited devices comes with security and privacy issues – how safe is it to connect these devices when they hold personal data? As a short answer, the IoT is relatively safe. However, as development continues, greater consideration needs to be taken in relation to creating a secure network around these devices. A report from Samsung (https://samsungatwork.com/blog/2017/04/01/openeconomy/) has suggested that it is critical to secure every device that is connected by 2020 due to the rise of technology and cyber crime, as it’s been estimated that by this time, the IoT network will have developed enough to for their to be a financial gain for hackers.
There are many possibilities for how the IoT can affect business, work and everyday life in a positive way. Manufacturing is so far the leading sector in the use of IoT, with sensors and trackers on machinery, people, and tools allowing effective coordination and development of their business. Also, farmers have connected sensors to their crops and cattle to track the health of their herds, and boost efficiency and productivity.
In terms of the future, there is a wealth of potential for the IoT within healthcare. With smartwatches and fitness bands creating a craze around tracking the number of steps you’ve taken to maintain health, the potential to then monitor body metrics through skin patches is currently being considered. Sonamba, have created a software whereby caregivers can receive periodic text updates on how their loved one is doing, and can alert them to any abnormalities in their daily living, which has been seen to be more accurate than pen and paper analysis in some circumstances. Healthcare is one area where there is potential to save lives, however with this being a very personal industry, the sensitive issue of privacy and security will need additional work before this is taken into mainstream care.
Even though it is already being incorporated into everyday residential and commercial use, the concept around IoT is still in its early stages. Ultimately this is what makes it exciting. The connection of devices seems to have sparked a lot of debate around the possibilities of its uses and potential to grow businesses and healthcare, as well as hesitation regarding privacy and security of data.
Only the future will tell how the IoT will impact on our lives.