In the world of computing terms are thrown about allot and by that very nature can become very confusing. The Internet of Things, or IoT for short has the mystic ring to it that only people with deep understanding of computers should know.
This is far from the truth and let’s take a step back and really dive into the world of the Internet of Things and see if we can demystify and pull back the tech curtain.
Firstly, chances are you have already come into contact with the Internet of Things. For a device to be part of the IoT it must have a chip inserted into them that allow them to gather and communicate data.
Anything labelled with the word smart makes up the Internet of Things. How do you maintain and monitor your energy through a smart meter that communicates with you how much energy you are using? To the water bottle that uses a form of light to tell you when to drink, so that you don’t get too dehydrated. Although these are just 2 examples of IoT there are actually hundreds more examples.
IoT is a ubiquitous form of computing which means instead of thinking of your PC as the computer any device can become the computer. This forms an ambient intelligence that allows devices to aid people in their day to day life. To either enhance an aspect of life or make it simpler for a person to achieve a task.
Although the Internet of Things is a simple enough term to understand the complications of implementing it is another. Take the bottle of water that lights up when you drink to inform you when to drink it. Other than learning how to charge and switch the bottle on the user does not have to know how to set the bottle up. The bottle uses an ambient technology to let the user know its time to drink. The user intuitively knows and is made aware even if they are not directly monitoring the bottle.
Do connected devices need to gather and share data?
Although there are some privacy issues to take into consideration the question should be does the lightbulb have to gather data. Maybe another question should be just because we can connect devices to a network should we.
I suppose the real question is what types of data it is gathering. If the bulb is gathering data like expected life before running out. This could be deemed as helpful non-intrusive form of data gathering. The bulb could monitor its life expectancy and when it gets below a certain percentage it could add its replacement to your online shopping basket that week, or maybe on a week when your smart assistant deems to have the budget to order.
However, if the bulb is monitoring when I switch my lights on and off and if it has been switched on. This data could then potentially be used against the user to find out when that person is not in. This could be used for various nefarious means and if it is possible people why try to exploit it.
Do we need the Internet of Things?
I think the Internet of Things only works more efficiently the more devices are connected to it. There is no point having a bulb that detects its life expectancy and then has no way to tell anyone. We do that now when we switch the light switch and the bulb does not turn on.
It really is an all or nothing question then if we are going to connect 1 device we should probably connect them all. However, we should have standards set that manufacturers should have to follow when creating these devices. An example would be excessive data gathering. In todays world data is king and the more data you can gather the more valuable that data is.
This should be monitored and made sure that devices and manufacturers are sensible with their data gathering and then and only then will the Internet of Things be a great place to be.