03 Jun How Will IoT Affect Us, the Society, and the Future
Since the inception of the internet not so long ago, the ability to interact with one another on an unprecedented scale changed the lives of billions of people around the world. Now, the Internet of Things (IoT) is looking to advance that step in very significant and unexpected ways. The biggest question on everyone’s mind is exactly how will IoT affect us and our daily lives?
To answer this question, people first have to understand the big changes that are actually occurring right under their noses. Contrary to what most people think, the Internet of Things is actually already here and it is already affecting our lives more than we know. Almost everyone from all corners of the globe has had an experience with the Internet of Things. But in most cases they probably just don’t know it.
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet initially contained terabytes of data that were mostly uploaded and shared by people. The data, including books, pictures, videos, and other text, that were added to the internet by people for other people to consume. With the advent of more advanced computers and integrated systems, more and more “things” started to contribute their own data. Physical devices such as vehicles, wearable devices, and home appliances. They started to get the ability to communicate with one another and other people.
Similar to how humans use their senses to convey their experience, “things” also started to get sensors, actuators, internal modems, software, and other electronics to “sense” their surroundings. More importantly, these devices started to communicate with other devices to share the data they have accumulated. This slowly changed the world and the way we communicate with our material possessions and with one another.
Aside from simple appliances, “things” in the Internet of Things may also include people with heart monitor implants, or animals with bio-chip transponders. With each passing year, things continue to become smarter and more integrated into the internet.
A very obvious example would be our own smartphones. There are currently hundreds of billions of smartphones and internet-enabled devices in existence today. All of these devices are capable of sensing their environments and communicating through the use of the internet.
A smartphone for example is able to detect its own location, its orientation, and the amount of light there is in the room. As well as the ambient temperature, and a slew of other information. That it is able to determine using a multitude of on-board sensors. It then conveys this information to its user when needed or to other devices.
Smart applications and virtual assistants can also use this information to the advantage of the user in most cases. Artificial intelligence-powered assistant software could contact a taxi or an Uber driver. Or better to start its owner’s car automatically when it detects that its owner is late for a scheduled meeting. It can also automatically adjust the temperature of the entire house;when it detects that the owner is on his way home.
These are of course just small examples in a much larger explanation of the question how will IoT affect us.
How it all began and where is it going?
Most experts have estimated that the Internet of Things actually emerged sometime in 2008 and 2009. Before that time, the Internet of Things, had already been present for a quite while. But the things that were able to utilize the internet had not yet surpass the amount of people existing in the world.
By 2008 and 2009, the number of electronic devices that were capable of communicating through the internet had officially surpass the world’s population. By 2010, there were already 10 billion devices that were being actively used around the world. It is predicted that by 2020, these devices will increase exponentially. And that it there could be trillions of dollars worth of hardware and software that would dominate the global internet bandwidths.
It was previously not yet possible to assign a uniquely identifiable address to every single device in existing around the world. With the advent of iPV6 technology, each device could essentially be assigned unique address ten times over. This allows each device to basically become a smart node. That is able to upload and download data from the existing internet infrastructure.
How is it useful to us?
A positive answer to the question how will IoT affect us is that the technology itself does have a lot of practical applications. It is already helping a lot of different businesses and industries in streamlining their productivity and increasing their efficiency. Industries such as agriculture, construction, healthcare, energy generation, transportation, and other fields have all benefited in their own unique applications of the technology.
Farming has significantly improved as more companies started to utilize smart sensors to detect their crops water needs and growth. Smarter irrigation and water delivery systems are able to automatically communicate with different sensors in order to detect the best time to provide water and other nutrients to crops. These sensors also detect the moisture and nutrients of the soil, which they then convey to other devices.
Energy generation can also take advantage of smart grids, which can detect power consumption at individual household levels. Through the use of this technology, power outages can be quickly addressed. As power generation plants will now be able to react faster in properly distributing the right amount of electricity to certain areas at the right time.
Commerce and Trade
Those who have tried online shopping may have already experienced just how effective the Internet of Things has become in identifying our wants and needs. Smartphones and computers, through the use of tracking algorithms, track a user’s behavior online and then take notes of his or her interests. This data is then used by retailers to customize ads that are then sent to targeted consumers.
Another potentially big impact of the Internet of Things is through the way we travel. The automotive industry has taken big strides in order to keep up with the ever-increasing advancement of communication technologies.
Current generation vehicles are now more connected than ever before. With some already being able to determine their own maintenance needs. Some vehicles come with their own internal sensors. Which allows the vehicle itself to warn its owner if it has low tire pressure or if its needs new oil. Some users are now able to start their car’s engine and air-conditioning system by simply using an app on their smartphones.
Autonomous driving will also one day take advantage of the technology, with cars potentially communicating with one another while on transit. Cars will also soon be able to communicate with stop lights, terminals, and toll booths, by sending them pertinent information. This may one day alleviate traffic congestion and lessen the amount of accidents on the road.
Cars today already communicate with a lot of other things. To the point where users are no longer aware of it. A car’s navigation system communicates with various systems such as GPS satellite and traffic networks to provide drivers with the best and fastest possible route to their destinations.
Health and Wellness
One of the best answers to the question of how will IoT affect us is by looking at the entire health industry as a whole. The Internet of Things has dramatically changed our way of life and more importantly our overall health. With the advent of smart wearable devices, people can now constantly keep track of their own body’s signals. Such as their heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure levels, weight, sleep patterns, and other parameters.
These information can then be used by the user or the device itself to inform other people or other devices as needed. A smart wearable device with this feature can even contact an ambulance automatically. Especially when it detects that its owner is having a heart attack. The device is able to do this without any inputs from the owner.
These devices can also store different parameters and data, which doctors can then use to analyze disease patterns and other information. The concept of a connected healthcare system is perhaps one of the biggest of the Internet of Things. The technology itself brings with it a lot of potential not just for medical companies, but also for the general public as well.
Due to the fact that every little device is now constantly collecting information. May it be about its owner and other people, privacy has now started to become a concern. While most people probably won’t mind sharing some of their information. Such as their sleep patterns or where they have been travelling, other more personal information may also be at risk.
Personal information such as medical data and financial information could be exploited by different companies and individuals to their advantage. Facebook is currently under investigation for that very reason. The social media giant was recently caught using its user’s personal information for its own purposes.
The company allegedly sold that information to data firms. Which was apparently used to track the behavior and psychology of voters during the previous United States Presidential Elections. Similar instances may become common place in the future. Unless more stringent security measures are put in place to protect the people’s personal data.
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