It’s been a long day— after all, your FitBit says you took 13,000 steps today. You sit down on your couch, and your TV wonders if you’d like to continue watching the Narcos episode you paused last night. But no, no, it’s not that kind of day: you tell Sonos to change the song to something more downbeat and set Alexa on a highly important mission for pizza. Fifteen minutes of light Twitter-reading pass, and finally a notification. Within 60 seconds, you open the door for the delivery guy, make sure you’ve got ranch dressing in the refrigerator, and dim the lights so you can enjoy the sunset— all from your smartphone.
Welcome to the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things, or IoT for short, is the hidden strategy that makes nights like these so easy. It’s an incredible idea with a simple goal of making life easier, and not just trivially (re: how fast you can order pizza after a long day of work) but globally. Generally speaking, it’s the idea of integrating all of the data from inanimate objects and systems in your life. Before you get too daunted by that idea, take a look at how the internet of things breaks down:
Step One: Sense
In the IoT, inanimate objects have senses. Not just new gadgets like smartphones, smartwatches, and smart speakers have the power to collect data, but all common things— thanks to micro-sensors embedded in everything from your bedside table to your kitchen sink. All objects can be “smart.”
Step Two: Integrate
Then, everything that can sense starts to communicate, in the same language. Leave the domestic scenario for a minute: It’s not just about Nest thermostats or toasters syncing up with coffee machines— it means car engines can continuously communicate to manufacturers about emissions, water pipes can collect usage data, and farm equipment can sync with weather data.
Step Three: Live
After we’ve modernized things like our transportation, power, manufacturing, and healthcare, our lives will all get a little better. It’s not about having a glamorous smart home; it’s about doing things in a comprehensive, streamlined way that minimizes waste and maximises human benefit. It’s about finally applying the massive amounts of data we’re collecting. Big companies are already working on applications to optimize our infrastructure: main players like Google, John Deere, LG, Maersk, AT&T, Cisco, FedEx, IBM, and Samsung all have IoT projects in the works.
As Big As the Internet
It’s not a new idea, but that’s the point: the IoT network gets its value from the fact that it will be so seamlessly woven into the fabric of everyday life that it is unnoticeable. It’s an attempt to connect physical things the way the internet has already connected people. Of course, lumping all devices into one giant network is a lofty goal, and not without its pitfalls—receiving notifications from Google Maps about your commute might feel creepy, and your smart accounts and devices could even ruin your birthday with a flood of notifications. But the pros greatly outweigh the cons. LG’s “The boy who beeps” commercial is an adorable personification of the IoT philosophy: when you speak the language of industry, you can change the world. Also, you can also potty train your toddler with the help of the internet of things.
Close your eyes and imagine what the world would be like if inanimate objects could talk. Now, open your eyes and take a look at the next best thing: the internet of things. All of our lives are in for a transformation as we build a network based on the collaboration and optimization of our stuff!