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Much Ado about the Internet of Things

The “Internet of things” is a term coined a few years ago and was very much associated with a sci-fi scenario of the next fifty years. With the advent of technological innovation and continued knowledge dissemination, it is shaping up to become the natural step forward. It has rapidly become a hot topic of discussion both in the workplace and also in less formal contexts. It will not only impact our daily routines but also our working/professional life.

This, therefore, raises the questions:

What exactly is the Internet of things?
How does this impact the normal citizen?

There are a lot of theories surrounding the “Internet of things”. We hear a lot about the different elements and potential repercussions, however, many people are still just trying to figure it out.

Broadband Internet has become a necessity and one takes it practically for granted that each household has internet. It can almost be classified as a basic need to remain updated and gain access to basic knowledge.

The cost of internet connection has become next to none and more devices are being connected to it. Common household devices are now being developed with internet connection capabilities. This is also coupled with the fact that almost everyone owns a smartphone with a next to endless access to the internet. All these elements combined create the perfect platform for the Internet of Things.

In simple terms, this is the notion of connecting any possible device with the internet, combined with each other. It is the Nirvana of the sum being greater than the sum of its parts. Such devices include cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and practically anything else you can think of.

Our lifestyle is evolving and being impacted by the fact that everything is connected. This raises the question, what benefit this brings to 21st century civilisation?

There are many examples of potential benefits and how this can improve our efficiency in a fast-paced lifestyle. Say for example you are on your way to a work meeting, your phone has a GPS incorporated in it, and is displaying the most efficient route and how long it will take to arrive. In parallel, your phone is also aware of your schedule through your calendar and if say you will be arriving late to a meeting, it may prompt you to send a text to the other party to inform him.

The same approach could be applied by synchronising your alarm with your coffee machine, having it prepare coffee a few minutes after your snooze. How about a refrigerator which identifies low supplies and re-orders accordingly?

Indeed, it is not all too difficult to imagine this future as we rapidly integrate a number of devices to the internet. This obviously raises a number of concerns related to security and data protection. In the eventuality of a breach, what data can be stolen and how can it be used? Will it be easier to monitor the behaviour of people in the confines of their own home? Will this be used to target individuals to sell them products? These are all questions which merit further debate and discussion.

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