The Internet of Things (IOT) is the phenomenon of everyday devices being connected to the internet; our interconnectivity beyond just using our computers or phones. If you pay attention, more and more household items are starting to become internet-compatible. If you’ve heard of the fridge that’s able to post to Twitter, then you’re already aware of this movement. Some things make obvious sense, such as watches or e-readers, while connecting a toaster or all the lamps in your house may seem far-fetched.
Mostly, the IOT adds value to a product by giving it another aspect—its networked capabilities. Instead of just being a toaster, it’s a smart toaster that maybe interacts with your smart stove and knows to time the toast perfectly, so your toast is still warm the second your eggs are done. That’s a theoretical example, but it gives an idea of what the potential is for a thing beyond being just a thing.
Google owns a fascinating product called the Nest Learning Thermometer that programs itself to change your house’s temperature depending on certain aspects. It can tell when you’re gone, and adjusts to reflect that. You can also change the temperature from your smartphone or another device. A UK-based company is Kickstarting* a project to rival the Nest which, well, does more things. This is exciting, as it means market competition should bring the costs of these sorts of devices down and make them accessible to pretty much anyone who wants to start building their own smart house.
With the advent of 3D printing (and that’s another blog topic I’m excited to explore with you soon), it should be easy in the near future to print anything as immediately networked, by basically printing the hardware and software the object needs to connect, within the object itself. Pretty neat.
Of course, there are always questions when new technology emerges. Some concerns may be valid: where is this information going? Do you really want data regarding how often you open your fridge, or what you take out of it, being acquired by who knows what company? Being completely interconnected is frightening for a lot of people, but it’s becoming more and more difficult, if not nearly impossible, to stay off the grid anyway. Companies are already gathering lots of data about your purchasing actions, and not all of this is negative. Security is of course a huge issue, but it is my hope that as the Internet of Things becomes more ubiquitous, users will become more knowledgeable about how to protect themselves, much like how the average internet user knows how to help prevent things such as identity theft or account phishing.
Keep an eye out for cool technology to come, and we’ll make sure to keep posting about it.
*Check out our blog post about Kickstarter here.