The Internet of Things

29th July 2014

What is the internet of things?

As 3Squared become increasingly involved in wearables projects, such as our recent venture involving Google Glass, we are becoming more and more involved in a movement known as “The Internet of Things” (IoT). We are all familiar with our computers and devices being linked to the internet, but how about household appliances, buildings or clothes? Soon all sorts of items and “things” that we come into contact with will be linked to the internet in order to make our lives and work more efficient.

It’s Already Here

This may seem like something of a futuristic concept, but believe it or not The Internet of Things is already an established system. Of course we have wearables such as Google Glass and smartwatches which fall under this umbrella, but on the less commercial side we have a lot of internet-dependent technology that is yet to be seen in the mainstream.

This article on OZY.com illustrates the point well. Earlier in the year Google purchased smart thermostat and smoke alarm company Nest for $3.2 billion. You may not have heard of this auto-regulatory heating system before, but the fact that a tech company like Google were willing to spend such large amounts on it goes to show how important they see The Internet of Things becoming.

A Glimpse of the Future

Once houses can be monitored and automatically adapted to suit the environment, what’s not to say that entire cites could be connected to the internet eventually? Public transport could be made more efficient when delays occur (routes could be auto-diverted, accidents could be avoided) and entire town and city lighting and temperature could be adjusted according to the climate. However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

In the short term, technology is being developed to help us keep track of our finances more closely by automatically collating data on our spending habits, income, monthly outgoings and providing data in order to help us regulate it effectively. There is also a company called Soundhawk who are developing an ear piece enabling the user to block out certain sounds and increase the volume of others. This is not only useful for those that are hard of hearing, but may have use in industries such as construction where environments can be noisy.

Potential Problems

It’s worth noting some of the potential flaws in the IoT, specifically so we can work around them. In this article by Wired, they look at reasons why The Internet of Things is “doomed”. They cite the following as evidence for why it cannot be sustainable:

- Security

Personal details and property are under risk.

- Privacy

Your habits and data are under risk.

- Digital Fatigue

Too much technology could become exhausting.

- Ecosystems

Larger tech companies are already well placed to have a monopoly on the IoT.

- No Killer App

So far there is no essential technology that could change the landscape.

- Enterprises Will Mess Up

Companies may try to jump on new technologies without preparing themselves properly.

- Vendors Smell Blood

Consumers have very little choice in what technology they take part in. Businesses will dictate.

While there are lots of systems already in place taking advantage of The Internet of Things, it is still too early to predict exactly how it will affect our day to day lives and how consumers will react to the developing technology. “One step at a time” could be the way to ease society into the idea of The Internet of Things, perhaps we are not ready for radical change yet. Any technology that makes our lives easier and more efficient can only be a good thing though…