Run For Your Lives! The Machines Are Taking Over.

Avatar Jim Macdonald
May 18, 2016
Why You Need to Know about the "Internet of Things..."

Back in the 80’s Stephen King released a forgettable movie called “Maximum Overdrive,” where the appliances rise up to destroy mankind. Maybe a bit far-fetched, but King may have given us a taste of the future… Sort of. There is a lot of buzz about The Internet of Things (IoT), but what is it, and how does it affect you?

Think of it this way: Practically anything can be wirelessly connected to the Internet and controlled remotely. Did you leave the house and forget to lock the front door? No problem. Take out your smartphone and lock it. Are your windows open at home, but you’re stuck at work as a big storm approaches? Don’t worry. They will close themselves. There are thousands of examples, but how did we get to this point so quickly?

Right now we are in the midst of “the perfect storm” for IoT. High-speed Internet, cellular service and smartphones are very affordable and available. Wi-Fi technology and sensors are being built into all kinds of products. At the same time, some really smart people are coming up with inventive ways to tie it all together. So things that previously required human interaction to work now have logic built in and can leverage the power of the Internet to become “smart”.

Take the previous example of a window left open in the rain. A “smart” window can be connected to the Internet, which monitors the weather based on the geographical location. The logic built into the window looks for indicators in the weather to decide if the window should be opened or closed. No human interaction required.  Technology consultant, Gartner Inc. says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion devices connected to this huge network. Some think that number will be higher.

So how will this impact you?
Ideally, this kind of technology will make your life easier and make you more efficient. Imagine adding a meeting to your calendar. Your phone alerts you when you should leave. Your car knows the best route to get you there, and texts your client to let them know you are on your way. Meanwhile, back at the office the printer is running low on ink and automatically reorders it.

It all sounds pretty good. There are long range plans for “Smart Cities” with intelligence built into the roadways, smart parking spaces, and dumpsters that monitor the garbage level and notify the sanitation hauler. With so many possibilities, it’s difficult to imagine the long term impact IoT may have. However, there are concerns about security. Can someone hack into your coffee maker and gain access to your network? Can someone hack into your car and disable the engine or the brakes? These issues must be considered as the technology becomes more prevalent.

Here is my list of five favorite applications for the Internet of Things:
  • Amazon Echo – Just ask for news, weather, or even a joke! Plus use the echo to integrate other IoT items around your home.
  • The learning thermostat – Let this thermostat figure out the room temperatures you like while it saves you money.
  • Wearable Tech – Monitor heartrate, sleep habits, and healthy lifestyle from your wrist.
  • Smart Parking – Find an available space in the city using an app on your phone.
  • Connected Cars – The connected car puts you in the driver’s seat, even when you’re not.

Now for my list of the weirdest (dumbest) applications:
  • The connected egg tray – Never wonder how many eggs you have in the refrigerator.  Just check your app.
  • The smart pup – Remotely talk and play with your dog through an app and your TV. Even dispense treats to your deserving pooch.
  • The intelligent frying pan – Now you can properly cook that piece of salmon with this smart pan. I don’t know how we survived for so long without it.
  • Smart bottles – That’s right… Your smartphone app tells you how much water is in the bottle, or if your wine bottle has been opened.  Much easier than just looking at the bottle.
  • The smart plate – With built in cameras and scales, this three-section plate recognizes your food, weighs it, and tells you all the nutritional information through an app. You can spend your money on the plate or a gym membership… Your choice.

The list may be long for ingenious applications of IoT, but it’s just as long for quirky applications. There are hundreds of billions of dollars being invested in IoT and there isn’t any end in sight.  That is, until the water bottles rise up and end the human race.
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