The "Internet of Things" is an growing topic in society, economy and technology fields. Electronic products, smart wearables, sensors, cars and other objects are being combined with internet connectivity and data analytics that change the way we live, work and play. But what exactly is the "Internet of Things" and what impact is it going to have on you? Let's start with understanding a few things:
What is IoT
The Internet of Things generally refers to scenarios where internet connectivity and computing capability extends to everything, like the cellphones, washing machines, lamps, wearable devices, sensors and almost anything else you can think of. Not normally considered computers, allowing these things to generate, exchange and consume data with minimal human intervention. The IoT is a giant network of connected "things", and also includes people. The relationship will be between people to people, people to things and things to things.
The concept of combining computers, sensors, and networks to monitor and control the objects has existed for decades. The recent confluence of several technology market trends, however, is bringing the Internet of Things closer to widespread reality. These include Ubiquitous Connectivity, Widespread Adoption of IP-based Networking, Computing Economics, Miniaturization, Advances in Data Analytics, and theRise of Cloud Computing.
We think the future is going to be, "anything that can be connected, will be connected." But why we want so many connected devices talking to each other? There are many examples for what this might look like or what the potential value might be. Say for example you are on your way to a meeting; your car could have access to your calendar and already know the best route to take. If the traffic is heavy your car might send a text to the other party notifying them that you will be late. What if your alarm clock wakes up you at 6 a.m. and then notifies your coffee maker to start brewing coffee for you? What if your office equipment knew when it was running low on supplies and automatically re-ordered more?
The reality is that the IoT allows for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place, many of which we can't even think of or fully understand the impact of today. It's not hard to see how and why the IoT is such a hot topic today, it certainly opens the door to a lot of opportunities but also to many challenges. Security is a big issue that is oftentimes brought up. With billions of devices being connected together, what can people do to make sure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network? The IoT also opens up companies all over the world to more security threats. Then we have the issue of privacy and data sharing. This is a hot-button topic even today, so one can only imagine how the conversation and concerns will escalate when we are talking about many billions of devices being connected. Another issue that many companies specifically are going to be faced with is around the massive amounts of data that all of these devices are going to produce. Companies need to figure out a way to store, track, analyze and make sense of the vast amounts of data that will be generated.
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