You’ve probably heard the term Internet of Things or IoT quite a bit lately. Just like ‘Big Data’ last year, this term is popping up everywhere. But how do you define Internet of Things? What exactly does it mean and why should anyone care?
We’re going to jump right into the topic with a clear and simple definition. Then we’ll give some examples and discuss why it’s relevant.
Internet of Things definition:
The Internet of Things is essentially a term to describe everyday items having built-in network connectivity (usually this just means connecting to your home WiFi). This allows them to communicate with other devices without direct human interaction.
Thinking of products in your own home/apartment is the easiest way to understand and define the Internet of Things.
NEST Thermostat is a good example. It’s a ‘smart’ thermostat that connects to your home WiFi for adjustments, updates, and more. It also connects to your smartphone via an app, so that you can control the settings without any direct interaction with the physical device. This can occur even when you’re not at home, as long as you have your phone with you.
There are a lot of benefits. Forget to turn the heat down before leaving the house? Adjust it from your phone. Want to change the temperature 1 hour before you arrive home? Make the change as you’re leaving work. Or better yet, program NEST to do this every day automatically.
That’s the basic idea. Adding embedded software into everyday household items allows them to communicate with other devices (your smartpone, computer, etc.)
If you want another example of products around the house that fall in the Internet of Things category, check out Canary’s Smart Home Security device. It connects to your home WiFi to send updates (including live video) to your phone even when you’re not home. Like NEST, it also has a ‘smart’ component that can learn from your habits to predict what you’ll want/need.
Here’s one more product that falls into this category. This doorbell sends live video to your phone whenever somebody’s at your door. You can use it to answer your doorbell even when you’re not at home. Visitors can no longer tell if you’re home or not, which is a great safety feature to stop break-ins. It’s also convenient if you just don’t feel like walking to the door to answer.
Why should you care?
Now that we have the Internet of Things definition out of the way, it’ll be easier to talk about why it matters. Hopefully some of the examples above showed how this technology can be useful in our everyday lives.
Essentially, Internet of Things devices are going to allow us to have more information and control over our lives with less effort. And without needing to be physically present to know what’s going on.
You’ll be able to know what’s happening in your home at all times. On vacation, at the office, etc. It no longer matters.
If you have pets or kids, you’ll be able to keep tabs on them with products like Canary.
Your everyday household items will also be able to learn from your habits and predict what you need (the two products mentioned above, Canary and Nest, both already do this).
When your refrigerator can remind you that it’s out of milk (or even order a new gallon online), it’s going to be pretty convenient.
Connected devices are going to pop up everywhere- tables with flatscreens and charging stations, beds with software to analyze our sleep patterns, etc.
Not everyone will want all of these products in their home, but everyone should be able to find something useful for them. Something to make life easier.
When we went to define Internet of Things, we started in the home because it’s the easiest to relate to. The Internet of Things won’t just change your life at home though.
The reality is that connected devices are already impacting areas like healthcare as well. There are already thermometers on the market the plug directly into your smartphone to transfer/record health data.
You’ve also probably seen some internet connectivity in newer car models. This technology allows for better navigation and safety.
In the future, expect to see more and more products being built with WiFi connectivity and embedded computers.