For better or for worse, man’s growing dependence on technology forces innovation to permeate even in the most simple facets of life. The upgrade. The new. The next. If it’s not on its way, it’s already here. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the current indicator of this change, and whether it’s known or not, IoT has arrived. And it’s changing the world.
For the sake of simplicity, condensing the substance and scope of IoT into a single phrase will make the technical language much more comfortable to digest – “the linking of one device to another or the interconnectedness of devices.” To prevent obscure technical jargon from torpedoing the intended clarity this piece aims to impart, let us begin with an example – your home. You awake. The alarm that alerts you to start your day has now turned on the coffee machine. The window blinds open to reveal the morning sun. Your car starts and begins defrosting. You make your way to the bathroom – a voice assistant greets you and lists the items on your calendar for the day and to anticipate more traffic than usual on the way to work. Before you get downstairs, the refrigerator has detected you are low on soy milk and has placed an online order for delivery. You leave for the office – the thermostat adjusts to the appropriate daytime temperature to conserve energy, and the security system is activated.
While the described scenario seems years away, it’s not. This can happen today! The hubs to interconnected households are now commonplace in millions of American homes. Voice-controlled assistants, Google Home and Amazon Echo, are two of the more popular smart systems both released within the last five years. Each is a leader as to what IoT can be and do. Now, what is vital to the function of these devices is the Cloud – using services that run on the Internet without the need for a physical computer. Accessing the Cloud is what allows these devices to access and manipulate music libraries, calendars, messaging apps, weather apps, traffic apps, and a host of other applications. Though IoT technology is still actively evolving, it is essential to note that the fundamental idea isn’t anything new. Services like Google Drive and Dropbox have allowed users to use Cloud technology and device interconnectivity to access, manipulate, and collaborate on documents and information in the same capacity for years. What is so groundbreaking is the application of this idea to devices not traditionally integrated into the internet-enabled ecosystem.
IoT devices that would render a home completely automated are yet to be made available to mass retail markets. Devices, to be able to communicate with one another, must be computerized – equipped with technology that will allow them to be remotely controlled and programmed. Likewise, sensors need to be embedded into these devices that will enable them to respond to changes in their environment and take programmed actions. As can be understood, the reengineering and redesigning of such products are expensive, and consumers are still very content with a refrigerator that doesn’t grocery shop. The automation and remote workings of IoT devices hinge upon the devices’ ability to send and receive communication with other connected devices. Fortunately for Burlingtonian’s, you have access to a fiber network perfect for supporting IoT devices, smart homes, and future smart city initiatives. (Insert horn toot!)
As is true for most IoT devices, the addition of IoT devices into your lifestyle is as the value-add proposition. Will it add value? Will it solve a problem? Will it make something more manageable? If yes, then it is worth adventuring down the IoT rabbit whole. Though relatively new, IoT devices and applications are sure to shape our future homes, workplaces, and community. Check back soon for more articles on IoT!