The internet is typically thought of as websites and social networks by everyday people. It might also be thought of as an infinite digital space where you can find anything or anyone. Most people never think about the physical servers that hold all that information, but the internet is made up/enabled by physical objects. But there’s, even more, nuance to “the internet of things,” a term Forbs reports 87% of people, haven’t even heard before. So, what is it? Here’s a look.
- The Basics:
- The Now:
- The Future:
Fitness bands, smart thermostats, and WiFi enabled coffee makers are all some of the items that make up the “internet of things,” (IoT). Basically, any item that has WiFi capability be it cars, smartphones, ATMs, or smart home hubs like Amazon’s Echo. Right now, more and more items are outfitted with internet capabilities. It’s even predicted that by 2020, 250 thousand vehicles will be connected to the internet. Today Google’s autonomous cars drive an average of 10,000 miles a week, for instance. Keep in mind these devices don’t only connect to the internet, but they send and collect data to and from each other. When your smartphone syncs with your car stereo, these two connected devices share data
Today, the IoT is still at the edge of possibility, but we haven’t taken the leap from the IoT as a novelty to a commodity. Smarthome hubs have decreased in price, but the products they sync with and control are still expensive. While autonomous cars are still years away, many automobile manufacturers have utilized the same technology for self-parking features, which makes your car parallel-park itself. While the functionality of the internet of things is still in its infancy, look for more practical and helpful advances in the near future.
It looks as though, in the future, anything that can be connected via WiFi or mobile data, will be. But why would society need all these devices to speak with each other? Imagine your digital calendar is synced with your car. You have an appointment. Your car knows this and as you start the engine your car already knows the fastest route to your destination. If there is unexpected traffic, your car, synced with your smartphone, sends a message to your appointment that you will be a few minutes late. As another example: Image you wear your fitness band all the time. What if that band tracked your productivity each day and gave you data that showed what hours and environments are your most productive. Then you share this with your boss and the company you work for. They tailor your schedule for maximum productivity. You come to work later, you take an extra break, and go home earlier, but you get more work done by the numbers. You have more time for you, and you’re a more valuable employee. Everyone wins. While this may seem like a far off future, the IoT isn’t, and its limits are endless.
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