By: Matt Zothner
Imagine driving up to your house and your garage, lights, blinds, and even music are aware that you’re home. The lights turn on and your music picks up right where you left off a second ago in the car. Imagine this kind of technology also connecting your fridge, washing machine, and air conditioning, saving you both energy and money.
Sounds great doesn’t it? It’s called the Internet of Things, and it refers to all electronic devices being connected to the internet, communicating to each other as we go about our daily lives.
So far, there are a handful of products or “things” connected to the internet including cars, TVs, printers, airport kiosks, etc. Soon, however, the world will be connected through roughly 30 billion devices, according to Gartner.
If you can imagine your house being completely connected, then can you imagine an entire city, a “smart” city, collecting data by itself about anything from traffic logistics to hospital wait times? Or better, imagine a connected public transportation system - buses, parking spots, traffic, maintenance - all improved for a better city life. It sounds ludicrous, but it’s almost here.
The “smart” city is just the beginning of the Internet of Things, or IoT. The ultimate goal, in fact, becomes connecting all electronic devices across the world. When everything is linked, systems can be seen and updated in real-time. This reduces waste and cost for all parties - consumers, companies, and the government.
The technology is still being developed because it faces issues like technical standards, meaning that each device must be able to communicate with all the other ones regardless of manufacturer. Also, the experience needs to be easy for us to work with. That issue may be solved already, since all the information can go to our smartphones and wearable devices.
To some, this sounds like it could turn into a dystopic sci-fi film from the likes of Terminator, and they may be right. It’s true that when more things are connected, there are more security breaches and a larger potential for hacking. But in order for the Internet of Things to truly take off, consumers have to be willing to give their data away. This information won’t be related to personal data, but rather data from the amount of energy you use, health signs from wearables, and much more.
When we can understand our data collected from these devices, we can understand ourselves better. Our patterns, habits, and future trends may stem from the Internet of Things, and it’s an exciting time for a world of connectivity. I’m certain that as our “things” become more connected, we as people do too, and then, hopefully, the world truly becomes one.
Zothner, a junior marketing major from Cary, is an opinion writer