To understand the ideas behind the Internet of Things (IoT), you have to understand a few basic premises. Unless you live under a rock (and maybe even then), you’ve probably noticed that Internet connectivity is expanding. We talk about Internet connected devices being everywhere – smartphones in our pockets, tablets everywhere, and ultrabooks going more places than larger, older laptops. By all estimates, the ubiquity of the Internet will keep expanding.
You’ve probably heard about high tech appliances like refrigerators, washers, and dryers that connect to the Internet. Wi-Fi enabled thermostats allow you to control your house’s temperature with your smartphone. Startup companies everywhere aim to add Internet connectivity to more devices. With that introduction, we’re prepared to understand the concept of an Internet of Things. An example of an Internet of things would be when all your home appliances are connected over Wi-Fi, and respond intelligently to different circumstances. You would be able to turn certain things on and off remotely form the web, for example. You also might have an away feature that you can set to save power while you’re gone. Though this sometimes sounds creepy, it actually wouldn’t be that hard to get used to. Few of the devices would require additional user controls. Instead, Wi-Fi chips and computer boards hidden inside would interface remotely with you web client.
While the ideas behind and Internet of Things are technologically feasible, and many have already been developed, there’s a long way to go before our toasters and light bulbs suddenly become connected to the Internet. As smart devices and appliances continue to be developed, there’s a lot of room for companies to explore potential uses of this type of technology. Computers are getting cheaper to implement on a small scale, and there are all kinds of sensors and interactive elements that the microcomputers in devices could be connected to. Tech companies have a lot of development work ahead to figure out how to make an Internet of Things practical.
There are many serious questions to be considered when trying to develop a device for use in an Internet of things. For instance, what use does connecting a particular appliance to the Internet actually have? Sure, it’s a cool idea, but it has to have a defined purpose for the average consumer to be willing to spend extra money for. There are also a lot of privacy and security protocols to be worked out. No one wants someone to be able to hack into their house and start controlling their appliances. As appliances get more sensors and record more information, there will be more potential for privacy invasions. You probably don’t care if someone knows how often you do laundry, but you don’t want them to be able to tell which part of your house you’re in by which appliance you’re using. Cameras seem to be making their way into more devices, and while there are practical uses for this, there’s also plenty of accompanying privacy concerns.
Building an Internet of Things is a lot more theoretical and philosophical than it is physical. It isn’t cheap to put Wi-Fi in everything yet, but it is possible, with bundle deals it will become easier and more standardized as it gets done more. The important work to be done concerns the issues around these devices, as well as their practical implementation. For instance, standards and protocols will be necessary for devices from different manufacturers to communicate with each other. These are the issues that you must solve in order to successfully build and Internet of Things.