In the past, people dreamed about having every appliance in the palm of their hand. This future is getting closer by the day. The connection of household devices via the Internet is one of the signs. Such products include smart cars, toasters, lightbulbs, and doorbells, among other things. Tesla is actively involved in integrating such tech into self-driving cars.
This technology is not confined to the customer side of things. Many companies try integrating it into their own manufacturing process. Even car manufacturers are increasingly integrating their products with IoT systems. Despite the obvious advantages, the use of this technology raises many concerns. But what does the Internet of Things mean?
An Interconnected Device Network
In general, any product connected to the Internet is a part of the IoT. The recent description explains it as communication between objects. Think of a health band connected to a smartphone to get the idea. People can use them to order homework, check the house, or order pizza. These products are connected to automated systems.
The technology has devices making private connections and communicating with others. The Internet of Things interconnects these networks. Basically, it’s an integrated system of data sharing. This information is used for many things. For example, companies can improve product quality or provide better services.
Industries can use them to cut down waste and increase efficiency. Currently, 35% of US companies use smart sensor data in their products. Some sensors provide data on the condition of construction materials. Of course, there are those who believe that connecting something for the sake of it isn’t too productive.
The use of the IoT offers great opportunities for saving costs, time, and emissions. It can even be used to calculate the best delivery routes and production practices. This is a great opportunity for both government and corporate entities.
What Technologies Made IoT Possible?
The idea of the Internet of Things has been floating around for a while. But it was made possible thanks to many advances in specific technologies. Companies now have access to low-cost sensor technology. They are reliable and affordable, which makes IoT tech more common in modern devices.
Some network protocols for the Internet make connecting sensors to the cloud easier. This allows for a more efficient data transfer. The rise of cloud computing made it accessible for consumers and businesses. It can be scaled up with no need for manual management. Analytics and machine learning also contributed to their development.
They allow businesses to gather more accurate insights thanks to the vast amount of data. This makes providing goods and services easier and better. The rise of these technologies increases the boundaries of IoT systems. Natural-language processing gave birth to products like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. While those need tweaking, their potential is self-evident.
It’s true that anything connected to the web is at risk of hacker attacks. IoT products are not an exception. For example, VTech lost pictures and videos of children using their smart toys. There’s also the issue of potential spying on users. With all products connected, malicious actors can use them to collect user data.
For example, restaurants can target people based on their culinary habits. Smart fridges can collect data on the eating habits of their users. People can do a lot of damage when they hack smartwatch data. They might be able to determine when users are having sex and use this data for blackmail.
These flaws can be found in other smart devices. These include dishwashers and ovens. According to recent research, around 100.000 webcams can be easily hacked. Another vulnerability was found in smartwatches sold to children. Their flaws allow tracking locations, listening in on conversations, and contacting users.
A Need for Reliable Standards
One of the greatest challenges IoT networks face now is a lack of compatible standards. Devices have to be able to transfer and share data to work properly. Not having a single standard can harm this process. There are currently vast numbers of standards that are being developed. Most of them are made differently.
Microsoft is currently one of the few companies that look to fix this issue. The corporation introduced its own family of devices called IoT Central. With its help, businesses have a central platform for managing their devices. The goal is to simplify the setup of IoT networks. Companies like Amey, ARM, Bae Systems, and Intel are implementing the Hypercat standard.
IoT will impact every important area of life in years to come. Technology will make it easier to do daily tasks. They can make looking for parking lots in busy areas easier. One can also check the fridge for products or connect the home entertainment system.
What’s the Future of IoT?
The Internet of Things doesn’t come down to smartphones and TVs. There are plenty of connected products available to the general public. They include such things as
- color-changing light bulbs;
- smart doorbells;
- motion sensors;
- fitness sensors.
Yet, even with such availability, the market is still in its early stages. Some products don’t always work as intended, and security issues have to be fixed. There’s also the problem of their number that is counted in billions. All pose potential risks of hacking and other malicious activity.
Experts predict that even intelligence services can use IoT devices in the future. They will be able to identify, survey, watch, track, and gain access to user devices. There have even been reports of some governments conducting such activity.
There’s no arguing that the IoT systems are still in need of work. There are too many hacking risks to make them available to the general public. But, if these issues are taken care of, they lead to a more open and connected world. Calling your self-driving car to pick you up will be as simple as pushing a button. All signs point to this happening sooner rather than later.
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