It sounds like the title of a weird science fiction movie but the Internet of Things is going to make your life so much simpler.
WHAT IS THE INTERNET OF THINGS?
The Internet of Things or IoT isn’t new: tech companies have been discussing it for ages but it’s about to go mainstream.
Essentially IoT is simple – it’s machine to machine communication. It’s about connecting devices over the internet and allowing them to talk to us, applications and each other. You might already be using it without knowing. Currently it’s used most commonly in Britain in home heating and energy use. For example, clever functions let you turn on your heating remotely, and switch it off automatically too, as it senses when your phone (and therefore you) have left the house.
WHAT CAN IT DO?
Put simply, it means you can connect any device with an on and off switch to the internet. And that means that you can control them remotely. This includes mobile phones, speakers, lamps, wearable tech, heating systems, ovens, fridges, toothbrushes, you name it.
And it’s about to become massive – analyst firm Gartner predict by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected dervices. If you’re still sceptical then this may change your mind: Apple announced this week it is planning to adopt it into its next operating system by relaunching the Homekit.
This will let homeowners use one app to control lights, view doorbell cams, open garage doors and more. The app supports mass actions allowing the user to hit a single button to activate a series of devices. Tell your iPhone that “I’m Leaving”, and the Home app will turn off the lights, turn down the thermostat and set the alarm.
WHY IS THIS A GOOD THING?
In the future, anything that can be connected, will be connected, but what impact does that have on you? Well actually a massive one. An example of this is a smart fridge, which could text you that you need to buy milk on your way home because its internal camera realised the pint had gone out of date. Or imagine this: you are on your way to a meeting… Your car can access your calendar and already knows the best route to take. If traffic is bad it can then text the person you’re seeing and tell them you will be late. Even better than that, when your alarm goes off at 8am, IoT’s could tell your coffee machine to have a cup freshly brewed and waiting for you. Sounds appealing, right?
There are even plans for an app that can water your plants when you go on holiday.
Experts are predicting it will revolutionise health care with smart pills and connected monitoring patches. Already thousands of people are slapping on fitness bands to track their heartbeat or steps and that’s just the beginning. Intel have designed a smart band to track how much patients shake with Parkinsons and it’s much more accurate than the naked eye.
The opportunities are limitless to make our lives easier.
It won’t be just individuals who will benefit from IoT either, as well as companies embracing the new technology, it can also scale up to smart cities – connected traffic signals or smart bins that signal when they need to be emptied.
ARE THERE ANY NEGATIVES?
Connected devices will become as big a part of the working day as computers and emails, but that gives employers potential to use it to monitor staff and productivity. Bosses could in theory track where you are in the building, how many times you go to the toilet, or how oftern you make a cup of tea.
Plus all these devices and systems are collecting a lot of personal data about people – a smart meter for your heating knows when you’re home and what electronics that you use too. It’s then shared with other devices and held in databases by the companies that make the products.
And of course security is a concern when it comes to IoT. With billions of
devices being connected together how do people make sure that their
data stays secure? Security experts argue more needs to be done to make sure privacy
isn’t at risk. Though so far hackers haven’t made much effort to attack IoT.
INTRIGUED? HOW TO GET STARTED
Obviously you can spend money on smart TVs or smart fridges, but there are cheaper ways to get started. A simple way of getting involved is through a TV recording app, like the Sky Plus. You can use these to remotely record programmes onto your Sky Box when you aren’t home. There’s a system called Presence that’s worth looking into; it can turn old iPhones and Android devices into rotating home cameras. It uses software that connects old phones with functioning cameras to your current smartphone or computer.