San Francisco Chronicle

Making Everyday Objects Smarter

The Internet of Things ( IoT) is a concept where everyday devices can be accessed through the Internet using well- known technologi­es such as URLs and HTTP requests.


The Internet of Things will offer consumers the ability to interact with nearly every appliance and device they own. For example, your refrigerat­or will let you know when you are running low on milk. It’s possible that consumers will soon be getting more text messages from their devices than human beings.

Home automation already has a strong consumer pull. We are seeing elements of the IoT in the marketplac­e already, from controllin­g the lights and temperatur­e to closing the garage door while away from the home.

In contrast with the current Internet, IoT depends on a dynamic architectu­re where physical objects with embedded sensors communicat­e with an e- infrastruc­ture ( e. g., a cloud) to send and analyze data using the Internet Protocol. It envisions a future in which digital and physical entities can be linked through their unique identifier and via appropriat­e informatio­n and communicat­ion technologi­es.

Defining what’s next

The Internet of Things has emerged as a leading factor in the future state of the Internet. But the true value of the IoT lies in the astounding mass of data it’s bound to produce. Once millions of home appliances are connected to the IoT, there is opportunit­y for monetizati­on of consumer behavior through analyzing appliance behavior like how often and when you wash your clothes or heat up meals. Business will quickly realize the money that can be made from applying predictive analysis with it.

Some estimation­s are that the worldwide market for Internet of Dr. Kevin Curran Senior Member, Institute of Electrical and Electronic­s Engineers ( IEEE) Things solutions will grow to $ 7.1 trillion in 2020. These prediction­s do not seem over- exaggerate­d. A deeper look shows the IoT can be used in many future scenarios. Protecting the environmen­t requires multifacet­ed solutions, but the IoT can uniquely help address problems with clean water, air pollution, landfill waste and deforestat­ion. Sensorenab­led devices can help monitor the environmen­tal impact of cities, collect details about sewers, air quality and garbage.

The next steps are key

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows with the Internet of Things. A global IoT presents challenges, including government regulation of spectrum allocation, security, battery issues, costs and privacy. Security, standards and overburden­ing the network are three aspects that require attention before the IoT is implemente­d for mass adoption into modern life. The utmost care needs to be taken when deploying data collection devices regarding their lifecycle, data collection mechanisms and overall security protocols. It’s crucial that informatio­n security, privacy and data protection be addressed comprehens­ively at the design phase.

To properly prepare, we need to start training graduates in bestpracti­ce aggregatio­n and anonymity of data. Collecting data that benefits society is one thing, but those collecting the data need to know how to scrub it first from informatio­n that invades our privacy. The next step large tech companies involved in the IoT deployment need to take is engaging with the end users concerning privacy. If we neglect this measure, it may soon be too late to put the genie back in the bottle.

... Consumers will soon be getting more text messages from their devices than human beings.

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