In 2015, 9.4 billion ‘things’ are going to be connected to the internet (Gartner, 2015). This is up 30% from last year, but no where near the 20-50 billion expected by 2020.
This new and extremely extensive network of connection has been dubbed ‘the internet of things’. The internet of things is essentially ‘smart objects’ – anything that can send and receive information. This can be people-people, people-things and thing-things connections. This can include smartphones, wristband fitness trackers, key-rings that act as contact-less pay (bPay), baths that you can start filling remotely from your phone, weighing scales that track your progress and send it to your fitness tracker….
The reality is that the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can’t even think of or fully understand the impact of today – Forbes, 2015
We are already seeing huge developments in how IoT can change our lives. Or have you noticed? As Mark Weiser said, ‘the most profound technologies are those that disappear…they weave themselves into everyday life’. Thinking beyond tracking your daily calories, IoT is going to move us into driverless cars, connected roads (& road signs), even better health care and beyond. Essentially it is going to touch every industry and every area of our lives. For example, a man having a heart attack but wearing a health tracker band, could be diagnosed through data sent automatically to the hospital and have an ambulance at his door before even realising what was happening to him.
What this means for business is opportunities. Endless opportunities. It also means a lot of data. Companies are going to have more data than they know what to do with….which is kind of the problem. More, better and extremely accurate data could mean better customer service, better connections with brands and better consumer experiences, but the likelihood is that this is going to take a while to come to fruition. It’s businesses’ responsibility to find a way to utilize this big data (another buzz word – mum are you proud?) otherwise it’s going to go to waste.
“As technology becomes increasingly advanced, vulnerabilities in technology become increasingly apparent and exploited by criminals who are upping their efforts to hack anything and everything. Connected cars, biometrics and built-in came on laptops are the top targets for criminals today” – FraudTech Wire, 2015
Another issue that has a lot of people talking is security. Already people feel uneasy with putting some aspects of their personal lives into a place that could be ‘hacked’. This is a very real fear. If your thermostat at home knows that you’re not in (and so turn’s off the heating), could this mean a burglar could hack it for information and know you’re not home too? Most likely. Could someone hack your driverless car and send you off-route? Maybe.
Moore’s law of acceleration suggests that the more advanced we become, the faster we become at advancing. It’s actually quite scary. If you watch the below TedTalk you see the first computer ever to beat humans at general knowledge using artificial intelligence – is this a sign that robots are actually going to be over taking us soon? And if this happens, what use are we as humans?
Facebook’s ‘project internet’ that aims to connect the whole world by providing the internet (to rural Africa etc) looks to only continue this trend and push the IoT further than we may have imagined.
My housemate at University – Holly – used to always say that the robots were going to catch up and make us their slaves. To be fair to her, it doesn’t look far off.