What is the Internet of Things?

Posted 15/03/2018

The Internet of Things (or IoT) is a term that is trending up and up. Technology is a big part of our lives and the development of the IoT is a strong example of where the future is going.

We’re sure we don’t need to point out how predominant technology is in almost every part of our 21st century lives - you know. Our reliance on gadgets and the internet has become pretty obvious.

We’re definitely not saying that’s a bad thing. Technology has brought some wonderful things to our lives. Think about how much the way you interact with people and products has changed over the last couple of decades. So many things have become easier. Buying and selling anything, sharing pictures with family on the other side of the world, solving dinner table arguments, working from home, even banking! Our lives have been changed by the internet.

And it’s not over.

The internet is still ploughing the way with new evolutions of its uses appearing everyday. As these technologies become so fully embedded in our lives, the way is made for the initiation of the next phase of this.

What is the IoT?

You may have heard the term ‘Internet of Things’ begin to pop up more and more in the articles you’re reading or the conversations you’re having. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to technology that is implanted into items that you use everyday, that are then able to ‘talk’ to each other. Essentially it’s any thing that’s had a chip put in it to then connect to the internet, collect and communicate data. All those ‘smart’ things that are starting to fill the shelves, their part of the family.

Some examples of the IoT include light bulbs that change brightness and hue, coffee taps installed straight into your benchtop, security technology and locks on your doors. All of these things controlled through apps on your smartphone. You can wear patches that monitor your health sending details to your phone, you can even put sensors inside concrete to transmit and respond to different signals.

Already there are homes and even some shops being run by digital technology, Amazon Go opened a trial store earlier this year, allowing shoppers to skip queues and checkouts, walking straight out with their goods after they’ve picked them off the shelf. The smart technology they use keeps a credit card on file and charges at exit, monitoring what shoppers pick up and put back via a series of cameras and sensors.

What does it mean for daily life and business?

The IoT is changing the way we do life, automating menial tasks to effectively bridge the gap between the physical world and the digital. For the tech heads out there, this futuristic concept is totally exciting, a few more steps forward and we’ll all have personal jetpacks getting us to work.

Integrating the IoT into the way we live and work will streamline many of processes that we carry out every day. Think of things like taking inventory, with sensors that talk to databases and databases that are synced across multiple channels and locations this task will allow for a more efficient workplace. Collecting data is an obvious avenue that the IoT will act in. With so many connected devices, surveys on the way people buy and use products will be conducted automatically. Data collection like this is sure to lead to many more tailored and futuristic products and services. An entrepreneur’s paradise.

While we can’t put this post out into the ether without addressing the concerns that IoT raises about automation and what that might mean for people’s jobs, we think that might be a topic for a whole other conversation. So we’ll keep you posted on when that’s coming.

The coming of the Internet of Things does mean that life and business will change. The more we push towards this technology, the more innovations will appear, the further we will need to alter the way we do what we do. While jobs may be a concern, they can also be a cause for excitement with so many different and new jobs emerging from this advancement.

What is the future of the IoT?

It’s safe to say that the IoT still has quite a long way to go before it’s a major part of our lives. There’s still privacy and security issues that need to be worked on. Standardisations need to be put in place to align all products that are to be produced. In order to have a functional smart home, all the devices in it need to function on the same wavelength so to speak.

The future of the IoT is eventually going to catch up with how we need it to work in order for it to become a seamless extension of regular life. When it does, we will certainly notice a shift in almost every industry. The 'norm' will change. Once again people will have to learn new processes. Technological understanding is becoming ever more a necessity in the workplace and this may extend even further into the public sphere very soon.

As with the adoption of any new technology, for people's private lives it will happen slowly but surely. Things like Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri are already connecting IoT devices in the home to create smart dwellings. While this started off shakily, it is quickly developing. The more people use things like Google Assistant, the more they are able to learn about how people use them and what needs to be worked on. For example, recently Google Assistant has rolled out it's 'routine' functions. Where previously you needed to ask Google to turn on specific things, you now only need to tell the Assistant that you are home or that it's time for band practice for it to start a sequence of actions.

The future of the IoT and our own future is essentially one and the same. Our expectations of how technology should serve us are growing alongside the development of every new 'thing' inside this network. 

Some examples of the IoT that we think are pretty cool

Ring smart locks - allowing you to unlock your door with your phone, or see someone come to your door on a live video feed and let them in when you’re not home.

IoT Ring smart lock

Topbrewer - Coffee literally on tap. Choose your coffee with your phone and it’ll do the rest - our dream! (although we can’t quite justify the expense just yet…) 

IoT Top Brewer Coffee

Nanite cement- A concrete with in built sensors to detect and monitor the structural health of a building. 

IoT Nanite Cement

LIFX lights - Change your lights to suit the mood, right from your phone. Colour, brightness, hue, it is what you make it.  

IoT LIFX Light

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