As the digital world continues to expand, consumers continue to rely more heavily on this new-found convenience factor. With the Internet of Things growing to be more accessible on a range of devices, there’s no stopping the advance of technology.
If you, like many others are reaping the benefits of modern technology but failing to understand how it’s all happening, the question you really want to be asking is, “What is the internet of things?”
Here’s an example of how the Internet of Things or ‘IoT’ for short, is changing people’s lives, before we dive into the specifics. Imagine your toaster fixes up your bread just how you like it, by knowing exactly when you woke up (thanks to your alarm) and how long you took to get ready. When you enter the kitchen, you get your toast warm and crispy, just the way you like it. The coffee machine? That’s already brewing too, your breakfast isn’t adding any extra time to your morning routine!
This may sound like a distant dream, but it is possible with ‘smart’ devices, that companies are all beginning to develop to create the ideal ‘smart home’. Let’s get down to the basics though, to understand how this can all happen.
What is IoT?
As mentioned earlier, IoT is the medium that connects your devices to you. IoT is almost like a platform that allows your household objects to ‘speak’ to each other. From the shades of the windows to the thermostat, from your garden faucets to your air conditioner, everything can be controlled from your device. This not only saves time but also helps you manage the energy and electricity usage around your house.
But this can always be taken up a notch. Imagine it’s a hot summer evening. You leave your office, and the sensors of your car notify the air conditioner at home that you are on your way. This helps the air conditioner analyze how long and at what temperature it needs to run to make the house cool. And once you reach your house, you are greeted with a cool and pleasant environment at your house. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. This can always be used even more extensively.
Simply put, by connecting the devices with an automated system, it allows them to gather information, analyze it, and then develop future actions based on user patterns – this is also known as Artificial Intelligence. IoT allows all these devices to work on a private and closed internet connection and use it to communicate with one another. What once was a mere science-fiction comic analogy is now on the verge of becoming reality.
The Internet of Things and Security
With great technology, comes great responsibility – a little twist on Uncle Ben’s iconic Spiderman quote. In all honesty, no one is surprised by the increasing risks that accompany ‘smart’ technology. Artificial intelligence, the very thing that the Internet of Things is built on, feeds on data. Each day, new data is fed through the AI system, and it continues to gather this data to ensure it functions at an optimal level.
However, each of these devices can feed data back to larger companies; bringing in the issue of the ‘Privacy Paradox’ wherein consumers understand the privacy breach and fear it, but continue to disclose personal information. So for many, the benefits and value that convenience offers a consumer, outweigh the potential security risks one brings into their lives when you bring AI into your home.
The Internet of Things, as the name suggests, relies implicitly on the internet to function – opening up itself and every device connected through it, to potential data leaks or hackers. When every product ends up being connected to another device, there’s a potential for unrestrained observation of the users. Hackers may hack into your IoT, like your camera and room sensors, and may monitor your every move. So, while IoT may provide an easy way of life, it may also make it difficult for us.
However, it is hard to ignore the advent of IoT in all of our lives. If you’re going to adapt to new technology, ensure you’re still putting safety first. Find software that protects each device from hacking attempts or that can report suspicious activity installed. This cannot be limited to your computer or laptop, but on every electronic device – invest in an antivirus package if necessary. Read the terms and conditions involved, keep yourself updated on any potential privacy breaches in regard to the device(s) you own, and honestly, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Just remember to do so at your own pace.