The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the interconnectivity of devices, like vehicles, homes, smart hubs, phones, and so on. The idea of having our daily devices connected in a way they can work in tandem to perform better and provide more useful information is not new - in fact, it has been around in Sci-Fi for decades - but as the year turns once more, it suddenly seems like a very immediate possibility.
The evolution of phones into smartphones was the first step. Not too long ago, no one had THEIR phone, but now, it's uncommon for someone not to have at least one, and they're usually smartphones - basically a pocket computer, letting the user take notes, organize, play games, stay updated, set important reminders, and occasionally, make phone calls.
This idea of IoT seems like a natural progression - most of our devices are already connect to the internet all the time, so why would they not interconnect within themselves?
Smart Hubs like the Amazon Echo are easing people into the idea of a smart home - it's like having your own personal Jarvis.* You want to add groceries to the shopping list, say the word and Echo will do that. Listen to music while you cook, listen to an audiobook while you rest, turn lights on and off, set timers, watch the news, ask the weather... all of that is now possible in one single hub via voice commands. The Amazon Echo is not the only smart hub on the market either - there are many other similar products slowly but surely reaching an audience.
*Jarvis is Tony Stark’s personal intelligent computer interface that responds to voice commands in the Iron Man movies.
It seems the world is ready for true sci-fi levels of connectivity. Having your home know when you wake up so it can turn on the lights and open the windows, set the AC to the adequate temperature, while the smart hub is already waiting in the kitchen with the morning news, updates you on your favorite sports team and plays your favorite playlist before you go to work. "Don't forget your umbrella!" it says when you open the door and the car starts automatically. Sounds like fun.
Or does it?
The most obvious concern from skeptics is just how much IoT will be enough. We're walking fast towards a technology that may not be ideal for everyone, yet it seems like it wants to be the new standard. In ten years time, could you have a house made without all this connectivity? People are saying in 2020 we’ll have interconnected devices all over the world! Are we really about to make light switches obsolete?
Even worse, what about security? Could someone theoretically access my smart home and open doors, windows, turn the lights off, or invade my devices? Could someone active my vehicle wirelessly? Obviously, there will be firewalls, but new technology usually has its flaws. Should we even be concerned so soon?
First and foremost, we won't make light switches obsolete just yet.
And second, this interconnectivity will surely rise in 2017 - with so many big names and startups investing on it, it's bound to -, but many things need to change for it to work. The public clearly likes the idea, otherwise, people like Facebook, Google, and Amazon wouldn’t be investing in it. But could having a smart home be the standard home? Not just yet.
In 2017, we can expect better smart hubs, more smart homes, and even more smart devices ready to connect with each other and make for some interesting utilities - let’s keep an eye on those startups. There will be more talk of security issues and fail safes will be implemented, especially when more people start using the available products. All of these things will span beyond 2017 and continue to generate discussions and improvements. Right now, we’re in a gray area - it’s too soon to be paranoid, but imminent enough to be skeptical.
Long story short? We shouldn't worry just yet.
In 2017, you get to keep your light switch.
Do you consider yourself ready for the IoT revolution? Would you trust and enjoy a completely smart home? Let us know what you think in the comments and follow us on Facebook for more articles every day!