‘The Internet of Things‘, as a concept, has gained substaintial traction over the past few months; however, it has been plagued by the lack of knowledge about this incredible feat of engineering and technology that aims to create truly interconnected spaces. ‘Internet of Things’ in a very literal sense is just that – an Internet for objects. It aims to eliminate the lack of communication (in terms of contextual data and information) between various electronic appliances used in a home – such as refridgerators, microwave ovens, television sets, computers – by integrating data collected from each one of your personal appliances into a virtual space shared by all your devices.
Sensors, the building blocks of this coming revolution, are so tiny and inconspicuous that it is hard for one to imagine that they can have such a profound impact on our lifestyle. Imagine a world where everything is being constantly monitored and quantified using a combination of these sensors. All of the collected data is then uploaded to a public or private, but protected database which crunches these numbers to create a ‘conclusion’. There are many advantages and disadvantages associated with this kind of massive data transfer taking place every second of every day.
For one, it would help companies use a large array of sensors to record data and seamlessly integrate it in a beneficial form – Data from gyroscope and GPS sensors from various electronic devices such as mobile phones would help create even more accurate maps of the world. Surveys would become easier and statistics more accurate. In essence, a future dominated by IoT would be something like this: Your thermostat would detect changes in pressure and temperature and cool or heat your home to the perfect temperature. Your refridgerator – connected to your Amazon Pantry/Fresh account – would order eggs and milk as soon as your run out of them. The mirror in your bathroom would detect your mood using sensors and would show you a funny cat video when you’re feeling low or would give you a list of your favourite people to talk to when you’re agitated. The lights in your house would respond to the ambience – colour during parties, dim when it’s night and off when it’s morning. Your alarm clock would respond to your voice and read out your daily agenda for you. Your car would read your calendar events and drive you to the location of your meeting. The possibilities with the ‘Internet of Things’ are endless. Infact, the march towards such a future has already begun. Some recent applications of the ‘Internet of Things’ are phone controlled light bulbs, smart thermostats by companies such as Nest and concept self-driving cars, by companies like Alphabet and Tesla, that are already under extensive review and testing.
The only main disadvantage that comes to my mind when I think of IoT is vulnerability. The sheer fact that the presence of a minor security flaw can be exploited by a hacker, leaving all of our devices and personal information at risk, is frightening. After getting inside the software of a single connected device, the hacker would be free to tamper around with all your devices without any hiccups. Many consumers use mobile payment daily and have sensitive information on their smartphones. A hacker could hack into your thermostat, channel himself through to your PlayStation or refridgerator and then finally into your smartphone to find all of your important information at his fingertips. The ability to hack a single device and cause that kind of potential damage would give great power to black-hat hackers – who are not so good with responsibilities. This problem, however, is being tackled by an alliance of companies that include Google, Samsung and LG. They are working on an extremely secure network which would allow IoT to work only to the consumer’s benefit and will try to stop any illegal activity or theft that can be associated with IoT.
Latest developments also include various companies launching IoT based operating systems and APIs for developers. Google launched Android Brillo and Apple launched HomeKit to push developers to create applications that make use of the emormous potential of the Internet of Things concept. We can hope to see some innovative applications that would possibly change human lifestyle in the next few years. All in all, this is what is known as the Internet of Things. It is an enormous power in its infancy with a lot of potential, albeit with a couple of flaws. The future is enveloping around this concept with adoption rates rising every year. Are we ready for the future or should we cling on to our ‘old’ LED television sets for just a little longer?