You may have heard the term “The Internet of Things”, one of the growing buzz-words in an industry chock full of them. But what does it really mean, and how might it impact you? To provide some potential answers, let’s start with a look at how the internet has developed over the years.
According to Internet Live Stats:
- About 40 percent (over 3 billion people) of the world population has an internet connection today. In 1995 (widely considered to be the start of the internet as we know it today) it was less than 1 percent.
- It took approximately 10 years to reach 1 billion internet users, 5 more years to reach 2 billion, and only 4 more years to reach 3 billion.
In addition to the people connecting to the internet, the types and numbers of devices being used to connect to the internet is growing at an even faster pace. Remember when you only connected to the internet with your computer? Now you might have a smartphone, tablet, and perhaps even one of those little fitness trackers on your wrist. Dick Tracy has nothing on you! Common predictions are that within the next 5-6 years, each person connecting to the internet will do so on an average of three devices.
So that brings us to the Internet of Things (IoT). There is no single definition of IoT, but let’s state it this way: the connectivity of things (devices, people, etc.) across a common network (internet) to share information automatically. That “automatically” part is important; in a true IoT environment, there may not even be any human interaction required!
Now, before we all start going “Terminator”, let’s consider some of the more realistic and beneficial implications of such technology:
- Heart monitors that upload data to hospital computers to help avoid heart attacks before they happen. Or how about this: you go to the emergency room with chest pains and they upload real data on what you’ve actually been experiencing over the past hour instead of asking you your symptoms?
- A car that senses when it needs maintenance, and schedules the appointment for you (with your permission of course).
- A refrigerator that determines you’re low on milk and eggs and places the order with your local grocery store. You go in and they tell you what you need. No more lists!
Of course these are just a few examples, and certainly not some of the more far-reaching ideas of what could be possible as we get even more interconnected.
We are smack-dab in the middle of the information age. There is so much of it available at our fingertips that it’s almost impossible to comprehend. The next step is figuring out how to practically use all of that information to benefit ourselves and others, and that’s where the Internet of Things will really come into play.