The “Internet of Things,” and Why It Matters
The “Internet of Things,” or IoT, isn’t something new, or a science fiction concept. It may have, at one point, tickled the imagination of writers in the past century; the concept that objects will be connected through wireless means, and will be able to transmit information back and forth that will help devices to better serve us in different ways.
Whether it’s through information relaying that we can use to better our health, such as the recently popular “Fitbit” device, or it’s through consumer mobile device applications that can allow users to manage home temperatures and security features from anywhere in the world with internet connectivity, the actual technology for the IoT has been with us for some time. It’s only most recently that the topic has become something of a popular point of discussion on where it can go next, and how businesses can either adapt, or become overwhelmed in its wake.
As early as the 2000’s, the IoT concept was already seen at work in concepts like internet-capable appliances, from refrigerators with screens where one could browse the internet on a grainy black and white monitor, to sinks, dishwashers, and other fixtures which could be managed from a mobile connection. Those appliances were mostly trends, meant to capitalize on the idea of wireless internet and what it could do for homeowners. They weren’t consumer success stories by any means, but they did demonstrate a market for the sort of applications that the IoT will be shooting for in the future.
One of the earliest missteps for the IoT was security, and it’s one that even today presents challenges for internet technology experts; if every device is capable of connecting, then that makes every device potentially vulnerable to viruses and malware. As recently as a few years ago, millions of online attacks were actually launched simultaneously from vulnerable, exploited internet-capable television boxes, from popular telecomm companies around the nation. Without the proper protections for these devices, they make the ideal launching pad for malicious code to be sent out to any address, and consumers would be none the wiser that they were party in the attack.
Likewise, the IoT’s security issues are one of the major stepping stones into making the concept itself one that is much more feasible for a future when automated malicious attacks are becoming both easier and more profitable for users that could be as young as teenagers, and as infamous as some of the world’s most violent terrorist organizations.
One area of development in particular is that of the driverless car, which would require both ironclad security and the ability to transmit and receive traffic and directional information from wireless sources. The potential for vulnerability and criminal activity would be incredible with a wireless vehicle, unless the right steps were taken to ensure a safer experience for everyone on the road. It’s that sort of tech development and momentum that will push the IoT into the mainstream, and into your home, sooner than you may think.