If you haven’t heard much about The Internet of Things (IoT), you soon will. Also called “The Internet of Everything,” this refers to the connection of everyday objects to the Internet. Once objects are wirelessly connected, using sensors installed in them, to the Internet cloud, then data can be transmitted from them and collected and accessed by various devices, including smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. Appliance manufacturers like LG and computer network companies like Cisco are already installing hardware and software. There are a bunch of companies, including an especially bright one named ” Evrything,” that are producing software that collects data from the things and transmits it to the Internet.
Billions of Things, Trillions of Dollars
The technology is already in place to connect all the things in our life, and to start them communicating with us. All that’s required are: a) Sensors, which measure things like whether a door is open or closed, or the amount of electricity being consumed by an appliance, or whether a parking space is filled or empty; b)Connectivity, either through a base station or embedded in the device itself; and c) Processors, to parse incoming data from the sensor(s) and transmit it. IDC, a respected technology market research firm, predicts there will be 30.1 billion installed autonomous things connected by 2020, when the IoT industry will generate $ 8.9Trillion revenue in products and services. ( Source: Business Insider, “The 6 Basic Building Blocks for the Things in “The Internet of Things,’ 12/31/2013.
Public Trust Is Needed
People close to the industry tend to treat the connection of everything through the Internet as a fait accompli–because it can be done, of course it will be. They point to the obvious benefits, including public safety and more efficient buildings. When gas lines can be constantly monitored for leaks, and bridges can be constantly monitored for dangerous wear and tear, and bodies can be monitored for early heart attack signs, and food can be monitored for freshness, and products can be tracked throughout their manufacturing life cycle, lives can be saved and products can be produced more efficiently. However, in the current environment privacy concerns may slow the growth of the totally connected world. Today, we see the top executives of some of the leading technology companies writing public letters and making public speeches to the NSA, decrying the government agency’s misuse of data collected from them. Tim Cook,, Apple’s CEO,recently called them “malicious hackers.” This self-serving, all-too-public, whining is coming from companies who previously cooperated silently with the collection of all sorts of data about their customers.
If tech companies cannot protect their customers’ information better than they have thus far, people will not trust the IoT enough to achieve the kind of comprehensive connectivity the tech gurus envision. Tech companies have to make stronger, safer products–ones that can protect us from malicious hackers. If care is taken to build secure systems and gain public trust, the IoT will arrive as a natural evolution.