The Internet of Things Is Not for You


The Internet of Things (IoT) could impact the global economy to the tune of $6.2 trillion by 2025, according to McKinsey&Company. But what does that mean?

The simplest definition of the IoT is "a proposed development of the Internet in which everyday objects have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data." This definition uses the term in a sentence, which could also serve as a disclaimer: "if one thing can prevent the Internet of things from transforming the way we live and work, it will be a breakdown in security."

I've written negatively about some aspects of the IoT, especially the home automation pipe dreams, which I'm not convinced people actually want. It's kind of cool to control appliances and temperatures and music distribution around the house, but is it necessary? It's a glorified Clapper.

I will admit that in the 1970s, I was all-in on the BSR X10 home automation gear. But I eventually determined it was ridiculous and gave up on it. That gear was probably not as hackable as today's products. If I was a goofy kid with a penchant for hacking, I would go right after home automation systems.

Imagine coming home and seeing the sprinkler system going at full blast while the garage door opened and closed and the lights flashed as the stereo blared Surfer Bird. That is where home automation has always been headed.

However, that is not same as the Internet of Things, which isn't going to do much more than skirt the home.

There have been a couple of cool camera-equipped remote doorbells released that ring your phone and turn on the camera when someone comes by. And how about Internet-connected meat thermometers? These are IoT ideas that are actually useful.

A lot of people see the IoT as having nothing to do with these handy household uses. It will all go into industry, mostly with computerized controllers talking to arrays of other controllers and, again, doing creative things, most of which have yet to be imagined.

There are companies working on elaborate traffic signal management systems involving intense sensors and software that keeps traffic flowing. I don't know about you, but I find it nuts that I have to sit at a light when there are no other vehicles in sight. This is easily solvable.

In many instances, we can get a hint of what kinds of devices will be connected. Newer cars, for example, have micro-sensors that will tell you when a tire needs air or gas in the tank. If this was part of an IoT scheme, it could report when you had a flat tire or when your car ran out of gas to AAA.

The IoT will have an impact on the automobile industry in all sorts of ways, although I suspect it will be used to issue traffic citations, especially speeding tickets, in states that rely on income from scofflaws.

The surveillance aspect will only be brought online once the technologies are commonplace enough so as not to excite the public. But even with a little optimism, I find it hard to imagine that the IoT will have a multi-trillion dollar impact within nine years. This report does alert me to the possibility. Now I'm alerting you.

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