The reach of the internet is constantly expanding. Modern technology now allows for the connection and communication of things, such as appliances and cars, with one another. Awkwardly dubbed the Internet of Things (IoT), the concept has evolved over the past few years, and businesses are racing ahead to be the first to incorporate IoT technology to fuel growth. At its core, the IoT unites the features of human behavior with technology, design and data science.
One of the most relevant examples of this type of machine-to-machine communication are wearable devices like the Apple Watch (according to Apple, “not just what you wear, it’s an essential part of who you are”) and fitbit, which sync to your phone and computer for a variety of uses (from tracking your progress toward reaching fitness goals to letting you know the score of your favorite team’s game). Tesla’s “always on” 3G cell connection makes it one of the first automobiles to ubiquitously adopt such technology, paving the way for the gathering of continuous data about “the car and its environment to Tesla, its users and ultimately to other vehicles and devices.” The potential of IoT for the human experience is vast and still quite ambiguous. Notes Brian Solis in his article The Internet of Things Connects the Future of Business, “While IoT and its everyday impact is nascent, the applications for and benefits of IoT in business are practically infinite.”
However, the value and potential of IoT lies in industry’s ability to manage the data that is inherent in the new style of communication. “The Internet of Things really comes together with the connection of sensors and machines. That is to say, the real value that the Internet of Things creates is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it. All the information gathered by all the sensors in the world isn’t worth very much if there isn’t an infrastructure in place to analyze it in real time,” explains Daniel Burrus in his article The Internet of Things is Far Bigger Than Anyone Realizes in Wired.
But why does this concept seem to be exploding right now?
As Jacob Morgan explains in his “Simple Explanation of ‘The Internet of Things,’” “Broadband Internet is become more widely available, the cost of connecting is decreasing, more devices are being created with Wi-Fi capabilities and sensors built into them, technology costs are going down, and smartphone penetration is sky-rocketing. All of these things are creating a “perfect storm” for the IoT.”
The latest iteration appears to be the Amazon Dash Button, a Wi-Fi connected device that reorders your favorite product from Amazon with the press of a button. Each Dash Button is paired with a product of your choice, which is selected during the set-up process. When you’re running low, simply press the Dash Button—ensuring you never run out of your essentials again.
The entire concept comes with some backlash. Traditionalists and purists wonder why you need so many devices to be connected and communicating with each other. We imagine there will be an optimal meeting point, which will vary by consumer and industry, where IoT utility and necessary brain override will coexist. Only time will tell at what level this type of technology will become as ingrained in our daily lives as the internet itself.