The Internet of Things – Friend or Foe?

08/04/2016 15:10

Where are we up to with the Internet of Things

The Google definition of the Internet of Things is:  “the ever-growing network of physical objects that feature an IP address for internet connectivity, and the communication that occurs between these objects and other Internet-enabled devices and systems”. Basically everything is becoming part of the internet, from fridges to cars.

The possibilities are endless. Whatever you are imagining about it right now… times that by 10 and you’ve still not come close to the potential of the Internet of Things

I’m not sure if you have tried to explain to the average (non-techie) person, what the fuss is all about?  We normally get an amused but sceptical look, “Sounds cool but a bit farfetched.” And that’s right it is cool and it does sound farfetched. But of course – we know and you know that it’s not. It’s happening right now and it won’t be long before it’s just a part of normal life.

Do you ever hear people say, “What was life like before mobile phones/internet? How did we manage?” In a few years – they will be saying the same about Internet of Things.

Companies such as Tesco are using it for retail analysis, mimo monitor is a device that produces real time info about your baby’s breathing, temperature etc, Glowcaps is a product that fits on medication bottles and via reminders to you phone, makes sure you take your medication as prescribed.   And with a number of health related apps on your smartphone you can already monitor your activity, scan the barcodes of food you are eating and more.  It’s a short step to getting Tesco (or whoever) to automatically send you more supplies when you are running low.

There are some challenges though.  Many devices talk different languages.  The smoke detector may be wifi, but the heating system could be Bluetooth, or vice versa.  Then there is ZigBee and Z-Wave.  There is also the storage challenge of storing all the zillions of bytes of data produced.  And as ever, there are security challenges.  How hard would it be to hack into a medical system and administer the wrong dose of a medication through an automated pump or take control of a smart car?

A funny looking fella in a red and blue suit hanging upside down off a spider web once said to us: “With great power comes great responsibility.” And he was right.

And that’s even more of a concern in this context.  Who owns the information generated by the Internet of Things Do you own the data about your health, or does your doctor/hospital/therapist or is it Cisco or whoever else created the sensor?   There are flashes of Big Brother attached to all of this.  Cisco makes, for example, a cool sensor that can sense lethal gases in mines, and the movement (or not) of the miners – that’s good.  However, that same tech can be used to monitor what your employee is doing every second of the day – arguably not good.  Especially if you are the employee!

Not to mention what will happen if such a large amount of data is spewed together: These confidential bits of data can be used to affect our insurance rates, for stealing money from our bank accounts.

So - do the positives outweigh the (potential) negatives? Of course they do, and anyway – there is no stopping progress or ‘uninventing’ things.  People are going to do bad things anyway but the Internet of Things has the potential to greatly benefit us in so many ways. Not to mention what it can do for businesses.

What are your opinions on it? Are you a technophobe or a technobro? Let us know

 

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