Earlier this year, the federal court system changed the way we classify the Internet. No longer an amenity solely for the privileged, high-speed Internet connections are now considered as essential as a phone or electricity service.
The ruling effectively took it from luxury to public utility, acknowledging its importance for both business and residential use.
This key decision comes at a time when emerging concepts like the Internet of Things (IoT) are entering the public consciousness. Many people are still working to understand the potential impacts in their work and home life, and the benefits are just beginning to emerge.
WHAT IS IOT?
The Internet of Things is essentially a massive network of connectivity. It creates a messaging channel for devices of all variety to share information.
As a whole, IoT is all about integration, fusing our lives together with useable data. The system is ultimately designed to make our lives easier by making them seamless with technology.
In the IoT landscape, devices of all shapes and sizes are outfitted with sensors that designate them with a unique IP address, allowing you universal access to them through the Internet. With IoT all “things” (devices and people) can communicate with one another, regardless of the brand.
IOT BY NUMBERS
Analyst firm Gartner, is predicting there will be more than 26 billion connected IoT devices in the next four years. This is a conservative estimate compared to other industry experts who anticipate that figure could easily reach 100 billion.
In essence, anything that has an option to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth can be a part of this diverse, omnipresent network. From cars and office machinery to home appliances and wearables, almost nothing is “out of network”.
SECURITY, PRIVACY AND IOT
Along with the many opportunities that come with a super connected life arise challenges, too. Nowhere are these more palpable than in the realms of security and privacy.
Privacy debates are taking place all over, especially with recent events like the Apple decrypt order and the NSA’s big data collection efforts. As billions more devices sync together, cyber security will become more essential.
EVOLVING IOT DEVICES
Think you’re not part of the IoT web? Think again. Everyday devices like wearables (FitBits and Smart Watches) as well as many newer home appliances and HVAC systems utilize this evolving technology. While these devices are currently used to regulate the temperature of your home or monitor your fitness efforts, these as technologies are soon to make huge advances.
Soon the IoT could make it possible for the health data collected on your FitBit to be automatically uploaded to your doctor’s office, making it possible for them to customize your treatments ahead of time or possibly predict an ailment before it becomes a full blown illness.
As a whole we could also make advancements that positively impact the entire population.
With these IoT systems, we could use HVAC data to regulate the times a system operates, adjusting the temperature only when there are occupants in the space, saving money and reducing our carbon footprint. IoT could also create “Smart Cities” capable of everything from traffic regulation to air pollution control.
In short, the IoT devices are taking over, creating positive impacts in every sector of our lives. For the time being, our energies are best spent taking the time to understand all we can about the IoT. As these tiny, specialized systems multiply, they have endless potential to alleviate stressors in our work and personal lives.