The Internet of Things (IoT) is certainly a complex idea, and one that could even play a leading part in our near future. So, where to start with such an in-depth, technical concept? To grasp what the IoT is, we must first begin with a definition. Mitew (2014) describes the IoT as physical objects connecting to the Internet, where each object is identifiable through their own unique network address. Objects would also have a sensory ability to detect changes within their environment such as temperature, motion and pressure. This concept can be difficult to take in. I mean, inanimate objects becoming somewhat active changes our entire perception of what we know about objects. What I also found interesting were the potential capabilities of objects being predicted. It’s thought that objects will be able to store and process information locally and via the cloud, and then by form of aggregation, objects will be able to perform an action, with little to no human contact involved.
The IoT can be applied to multifaceted parts of our lives, but to put it into perspective and make it as relatable as possible, watch how elements of the home such as furniture and appliances could potentially interact.
(Source: Dorothea Axelson 2011, The Social Web of Things, accessed: 24/10/2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5AuzQXBsG4)
Ericsson is one of the emerging technology providers who are weaving and interconnecting life with objects via network connectivity and also making objects tangibly sociable, ‘m2m’ – machine 2 machine (Mitew 2014). Morgon (2014) explains that the emergence of IoT is to do with a series of developments and changes such as, “the cost of connecting is decreasing, more devices are being created with wifi capabilities and censors built into them, technology costs are going down, and smart phone penetration is sky-rocketing. All of these things are creating a “perfect storm” for the IoT”.
Consider this quote and how technology is accelerating. When you combine it with humans and the fast paced busy world we are living in, it’s no wonder why the IoT would be an attractive prospect for organisational purposes and time saving i.e. the possibility of being navigated an alternative route to work in order to avoid traffic and on a greater scale, potentially reduce traffic congestion on roads. An object being able to make these sorts of predictions encompasses the notion of anticipation, a key IoT function, which is conducted by mass data aggregation that forms patterns and behaviours (Mitew 2014).
Whilst the idea of a household running self-sufficiently sounds intriguing, at what cost will this be? Where does all the data go? Who would have access to this, if our lives were to be tracked and stored in databases? What about the risk of hackers, cyber attacks? There are concerns about the nature and interconnectedness of the IoT and the security threats and vulnerabilities it poses. This technology can enable people to unlock the front door to let others enter without anyone being home. For all we know, hackers could do the same: access a personal network and gain control of an entire household. Would our door ever really be closed and secure, if we were to hand total control of our lives over to technology?
Mitew, T 2014, The internet of things: from networked objects to anticipatory spaces, lecture, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 21 October.