Of all the technology trends that are taking place rights now, perhaps the biggest one is the Internet of Things; it’s the one that’s going to give us the most disruption as well as the most opportunity over the next five years”
– Daniel Burrus
Founder and CEO of Burrus Research
The digital revolution is taking the world by storm.
Everyday technology is proliferated, and it’s changing everything. The idea of a digital grid of interconnected devices living our daily lives with us was once a futuristic concept in sci-fi movies conjured up by tech and gadgets lovers. But today, it is a functioning reality that is constantly expanding. From smartphones, to smart TV’s, smart appliances, to smart home-monitoring systems, and smart-cities, the names speak for themselves. Technology is getting smarter. Each of these devices, a decade ago would have been considered high-tech, but today, most middle-class homes are consumers of the aforementioned products. So what is happening?
The Internet of Things…
Sounds catchy doesn’t it? You may or may not have heard this term being thrown around over the past few years, but what exactly does it mean? Well, in the continuing digital revolution, involving the proliferation of modern technologies, the ‘Internet of Things’, or IoT for short, “…is a term used to describe the connection of everyday objects and devices to the internet, making it possible for them to capture, send and receive data”. It involves interconnected and embedded computer devices with the existing internet infrastructure. Most people who own modern products have already become apart of this web of interconnected devices and data.
The Digital Grid
The concept of your home and life being connected to a digital grid probably makes you envision a house with robot servants and talking ceilings that tell you the weather. Or you think about biometric technologies and likely a few relative conspiracy theories. Although, we can’t cancel these out as a future possibility, this isn’t what we are referring to here.
The IoT digital grid involves “increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection”.  But what makes IoT really come together is the connection of sensors and machines, sending and receiving data via cloud-based applications “using leveraged data.” The “real value that the Internet of Things creates is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it.”  Every devices creates data, so why not use that data to make our other devices work better?
Strengths and Weaknesses of IoT
Smart technology has proliferated itself over the past few years, and has found its way into many homes. Much of this technology works. The popularity of smartphones and smart TV’s are undeniable. Smart home monitoring systems, and smart home health monitors are also gaining widespread popularity. Why? Because these smart products offer value to the consumer, by ways of securitizing their loved ones, providing entertainment, or convenience, among more.
We also have seen the emergence of smart cities, wherein, sensors are placed on bridges to measure stress levels, and on roads to monitor conditions, and on traffic lights for flow optimization. Each of these machines transmit data to the grid, translating it into useful intelligence, followed by the ability to enable a real time response.
These technologies work.
However, to increase efficiency and for full functionality, consumers and vendors alike must learn to embrace open standards that improve IoT management. Big data information gathering, analytics and network communications are dependant on open acceptance. This could prove to be a potential problem for IoT proliferation, especially in relation to privacy and security concerns. A vast amount of personalized data and big data is required for some devices, and so security questions are raised as to how safe the collected information is.
Practical Application for IoT?
Is IoT really going to become part of our daily lives, or is it merely a viral idea with little to no practical application? IoT has demonstrated that it can be used to make our lives not only easier, but also safer. But it also has practical application for many different uses. Businesses from a variety of industries are seeing the opportunities ahead for IoT.
Business have the ability to boost their productivity and optimize operations through the use of better tracking of their assets and inventories. IoT could also be utilized practically in efforts to maintain quality control or consistency in regards to products, and or services. Additionally, large investment opportunities are being presented to industries where IoT can add significant value.
We are able to receive warning for impending natural disasters through monitoring the environment, which decrease the occurrence of catastrophes and danger. Climate change has also initiated the need to reach better solutions for energy. Energy can be harvested through the use of IoT technology, reducing GHG emissions for individuals or enterprises.
Ultimately technology is driving innovation, and IoT is the next big trend. It is creating the connected consumer. IoT increases the efficiency of a variety of things, while also simultaneously lowering operational costs, and everyone wants that. The emergence of IoT technology has initiated a fundamental shift, as it is going to be a major initiator for many new products and services. The benefits are clear, and 2016 definitely seems as though it will be the year we really see what IoT can do.
 Marcia Breen, “Will The Internet of Things Take Over Your Home in 2016?”, nbcnews.com, January 7th, 2016, http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/will-internet-things-take-over-your-home-2016-n490826.
 Daniel Burrus, “The Internet of Things is Far Bigger Than Anyone Realizes”, wired.com, Accessed January 13, 2016, http://www.wired.com/insights/2014/11/the-internet-of-things-bigger/.