What Exactly Is The Internet Of Things and How Will It Affect Your Future?
Technology surrounds us. From the phones in our hands to the televisions on our walls and the appliances in our kitchen, new tech comes at us from every angle.
Many of us fail to fully understand just how advanced those everyday conveniences are now and the extent of what they will be in the future. Four simple words can help clarify where we’re at and the limitless possibilities of where we’re going.
The Internet of Things.
Now is the point of the conversation when many say, “sure, the internet, it’s a big deal.” While the name may be similar, the Internet of Things goes far beyond simple web surfing and Facebook postings.
Yes, social media posts and Amazon orders are a big deal and have played a considerable part in the advancing of our society, but the Internet of Things is something far more. In fact, is a lot of somethings, and it is being stitched into the fabric of our everyday lives.
So, what is the Internet of Things and how is it going to change the future?
Our Life, Connected
In simple terms, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is a series of devices connected by the internet that use installed sensors and processors to communicate with either each other or us. They collect and share data and information. Those devices then use that info to complete tasks, analyze figures, create efficiencies, or report on any other number of data points.
Honestly, there is no limit to what items can be made to be part of the IoT. Examples most commonly associated with this connected family of stuff include light bulbs, plugs, security systems, or thermostats. In other words, things that typically wouldn’t connect online, but can be made to do so via the sensors mentioned above.
It doesn’t stop there though. Smart appliances and other household tech are making their way to the market. Coffee makers, televisions, vacuum cleaners, and alarm clocks to name a few. Chances are reasonably high that you or someone you know may already possess one or two of these items in your home.
However, the applications move far beyond simple household items. Cars are the next logical inclusion, and from there it’s easy to start seeing the practical business and governmental applications of the IoT.
Transportation vessels like airplanes or mass transit trains, connected street lights or bridges and roadways, and sensors spread throughout buildings both short and tall will join a city together.
When you hear the phrase smart device, what we mentioned above is just the beginning.
The IoT Today
For the most part, the public associate today’s IoT with the smart home.
Intelligent plugs that shut lights off on a schedule.
Virtual doorbells that don’t just ring, but show you who’s doing it.
Voice-activated assistants to keep your life on track or your useless trivia knowledge on point.
Jokes aside, it’s that last item where the IoT took off. Now, the applications have moved from occasional convenience to every day integrating. More than just virtually flipping switches, here are a few examples beyond your home:
It’s time for your car’s next oil change, and instead of you calling, your vehicle automatically sets up the appointment, and it’s seamlessly added to your calendar.
Or the ID badge you wear at your place of employment clocks you in merely by you walking in the building, or automatically logs your travel miles and submits them for reimbursement when you go out on sales calls.
Beyond the personal and day to day professional implications, the larger real-world implementation is even more impressive. This is most evident in the positive impact the IoT can have on transportation networks.
It’s widely known the United States has a crumbling infrastructure, but what if sensors were placed in a bridges framework or layered into a concrete thoroughfare? Stresses or faults in the surface or structure relay back to a centralized hub which can then schedule the appropriate repairs.
The IoT can even help with improving efficiencies or keeping cities safe. Sensors can aid in determining water leaks within a city’s pipe system to minimize loss or monitor when dumpsters and rollout trash cans are full to maximize garbage truck fuel economy.
On the safety side, testing water drinkability in local sources like lakes or streams can lead to better citywide health. Real-time monitoring of natural conditions and when they could deteriorate can help speed evacuations and better direct resources in times of disasters, such as wildfires or flash floods.
It does push the case that anything can be made to be part of the IoT and us as a society can reap a considerable amount of benefit from it. That’s the here and now though. What about five or ten years from today?