The Internet of Things, or IoT, is yet another term on a laundry-list of digital phrases people in the marketplace need to know and learn this year. Though it seems like everyone’s talking about it, IoT isn’t always met with a great deal of understanding. We know it means something about connecting devices, but beyond that – what impact could it really have on our lives?
If you’re willing to go tumbling down the rabbit hole, you’ll find that the Internet of Things has the power to affect almost everything, from the way we live to the way we work. Here, we’ll be your white rabbit on an exploration into what this term really means.
Defining the Internet of Things
In simple terms, the Internet of Things is the concept of being able to connect any device that’s powered, to the internet. This includes your smartphone, your coffee machine, washing machine, and even your headphones. It might also apply to specific components in machines, such as the jet engine of a plane, or the drill in an oil rig.
According to Gartner, IoT is big, and it’s getting bigger. By the time we reach 2020 (just 2 and a half years from now), there’ll be over 26 billion interconnected devices. That’s a lot of different computers talking to each other at once.
But, what does that mean for you?
How the IoT Impacts You
As we pull on our chrome jumpsuits and head further into the future, it seems as though the new rule for technology will be: “Anything that can be connected, will be”. But, why do we want so many connections in the first place? The simple answer is convenience.
For instance, if you’re on the way to a meeting and your car knows that it’s running low on fuel, it could text your phone and tell you that you need to set aside extra time to visit a petrol station. On the other hand, if you were in an office and getting low on printer ink, your printer could automatically order new supplies for you, so you never have to worry about blotchy print-outs.
If you take IoT to the next level, then you can start introducing things like “smart cities”, which help to eliminate waste and improve energy efficiency and environmentally friendly practices. The further we dive into the possibilities of interconnectivity, the more we can see that collaborating devices could lead to endless opportunities for a brighter future.
So, Where’s the Catch?
The only problem is, that when we approach the numerous opportunities of IoT, we also face a few specific challenges too. For instance, security is a common issue that’s frequently discussed across the technology industry. If so many different devices are connected together, that means that there are more risks of problems emerging. For instance, could someone hack into your toaster and steal your bank details?
On top of security concerns, there’s also some worry about the significant amount of data that these devices are going to produce. Companies will need to find a way to track, store, and analyse all that data if they want it to be valuable to their business, and also compliant with the latest security regulations.
As conversations about IoT continue to take place around the world, we’re beginning to recognise just how many new opportunities technology is bringing us. It’s hard to estimate where the internet of things will take us in the coming years. For now, all we can do is learn as much as possible about how these devices work, and what they mean for our future.
Rob is Founder & Publisher of UC Today, a leading news publication specialising in Unified Communications & Collaboration technologies.