Many of us have heard of it, but we have yet to grasp exactly what the Internet of Things (IoT) is. Forbes describes the IoT as the concept of connecting any device with an on/off switch to the internet. These devices can also be connected to each other. Imagine a scale in your bathroom that can connect to your refrigerator. If the scale finds that you are over weight, your refrigerator will know and will suggest healthy recipes to help you lose weight. Your watch may one day be able to warn you of serious health problems and concerns approaching.
Yes, this is in our future as well as many other ‘enchanted’ objects. Dishwashers, camera’s, lighting systems basically everything you own will have the potential to be connected. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? We will be able to turn our lights on or clean our home from anywhere in the world with the simple click of a button. Some objects will even be wired to work with each other rather than through human interaction. Yes, all of those science-fiction movies are coming to life. Will this be cause for celebration?
Some of tech’s greatest minds aren’t so sure. Doubts have risen on the impact the IoT will have on everything. From users privacy and security to human dignity and social inequality they are all being questioned. While the benefits of this technology could be great, there is a downside that isn’t being addressed. Imagine one of your enchanted objects is hacked and reprogrammed to do things it was not designed for…things you do not want these objects to do. With each object being connected to the next, it could quickly get out of hand.
The complexity of the items cause another concern. We may end up in a world that is far more complex than we had imagined and when the world breaks (or the internet goes down), who will be able to fix it? Some also wonder if these items will ever be used to their full potential.
In addition to all of the aforementioned, people will be left behind causing a digital divide. People in the poorest countries that could benefit the most from this technology will not have it available. We must also consider those that live in rural areas with poor connection in the United States. These households will not be able to have full connectivity and will end up on the opposite side of the digital divide. Some households will choose not to have their lives fully connected because of privacy concerns among other possible reasons. These households will be ‘disenfranchised.’
While the possibilities behind the IoT are exciting, the realities may prove to be less exciting. Pew Research estimates that the IoT will thrive by the year 2025. It will be interesting see how the next ten years will evolve. Which side of the divide will you find yourself on?
To learn more about the IoT, please watch the below video:
Learn more about the Internet of Things and what your connected future may hold: