In the early 1980s, Carnegie Melon University rolled out a Coca Cola machine that, for the first time, could connect to the Internet. Thirsty students had the ability to check the temperature and availability of the drinks inside in real time.
This vending machine was the first documented device that belonged to the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things refers to the web of physical devices that are all connected to each other on a universal computing network.
Today, IoT devices include everything from Amazon’s Echo and the Google Home to items like the Fitbit and the Ring doorbell. In 2020, the IoT appears in homes, offices, schools, cities, and just about everywhere an Internet connection is available.
However, the concept “Internet of Things” no longer encapsulates the technology corporations are currently using to collect the data of oblivious civilians. The term is now 21 years old, and the tech industry has made massive strides since its inception. The IoT has evolved, and this new version deserves a closer look.
The IoT is much older than most realize. It began 40 years ago with the creation of telemetry, which involved rudimentary devices that were used to capture simple data points that companies could analyze. At that point in time, such machines were large and expensive.
The next level of the IoT was telematics. These were smaller, cheaper sensors that were mobile and could process more data. Further development led to machine to machine communication, which allowed different devices that were connected to the same network to send messages to each other. For example, Carnegie Melon’s Coca Cola machine could inform another device that it ran out of cans of soda.
More rapid innovation in the industry led to the IoT in which most consumers participate today. Increased computation power, a higher number of sensors, and the creation of the Cloud finalized the network full of linked devices that tech leaders had envisioned for so long. Modern IoT devices are compact, affordable, and commonplace in everyday life, just as the tech industry intended. Consumers pursue the convenience of technology such as virtual assistants and smart doorbells, ignoring the threats they pose to their sensitive personal data.
Beyond the home, tech corporations have moved to plant IoT technology all around bustling cities to expand their data capturing. The industry as a whole now tracks the activity of urban areas and their residents in order to analyze and control their behavior. Firms collect this data using devices such as cameras, pedestrian and vehicle sensors, and smartphone beacons. With the exception of items that are meant to be seen like CCTV cameras, the majority of this technology operates while hidden from civilians.
The creators of these “smart cities” have the ability to use the IoT to enhance the lives of residents. For instance, many employ sensors that gather meteorological data such as temperature and air quality. Some even have technology that can be used to detect nuclear, chemical, biological, radiological, or high-explosive weapons.
But on the other hand, corporations could also exploit IoT technology to create a surveillance state by equipping security cameras with facial-recognition and gaze-tracking technology. This would enable them to identify and track pedestrians without their knowledge. It would also allow firms to detect crowds and even analyze their demographics and possible intentions. The widespread implementation of such technology would have serious ramifications for democratic states.
Most users of IoT devices likely don’t recognize or understand the processes going on behind the scenes. In order for tech firms such as Amazon and Google to profit off of these items, they must use them to gather data, interpret it, and take action based on the insights it provides.
There is no such thing as “raw” data. Whether it’s the number of steps a user walked in a day or the number of times they visited the fridge, all data can be seen and skewed in a variety of ways. Tech firms can use the insights from data in positive ways, such as improving efficiency in a factory or upgrading artificial intelligence to better serve the public. At the same time, they can also utilize them against users with targeted advertising or even the sale of the data to insurance and health companies that could use it to deny them opportunities.
The most important distinction here is that the IoT has now been permanently linked with Big Data. Tech giants will only continue selling these devices if they can make a profit off of them, and in order to make that profit they must engage in the collection and sale of data in the burgeoning data marketplace.
In this sense, IoT machines are no longer just physical machines. They have been transformed into cyber-physical devices that blur the line between the physical and virtual worlds. After all, their sole purpose is to translate actions taken in the real world into digital bits and bytes for the Cloud. There are few areas in modern society which the IoT has not yet infiltrated, and it’s still spreading.
Still, even after these machines have transmitted the data they’ve collected to the network, firms haven’t yet maximized their potential value. To do that, they must analyze it and employ what they learn to control and manipulate the real world.
Even in today’s digital society, such a feat is easier said than done. Analyzing and interpreting data takes time, meaning corporations aren’t able to take action on their insights right away. Not only that, but there are still regions such as mines and the ocean in which Internet access is impossible, preventing firms from sending and receiving data. Like all technological processes, IoT processes need to become much faster in order to serve their purpose in every way possible.
A possible solution lies in Edge Computing. Edge Computing devices have all of the capabilities of current IoT devices and also have the capacity for machine learning similar to that of the Cloud. Edge Computing machines would also overcome any latency in the data collection process, though they would cost much more than the IoT devices being produced today.
The tech industry is already closing in on many new IoT technologies that could soon be sold to the masses at more affordable prices. Emerging devices include smart refrigerators, thermostats, and lights that users could control inside their homes. In addition, augmented reality and virtual reality technologies are improving every year and beginning to enter the mainstream. Many pundits have speculated that AR and VR represent the future of the tech industry.
Due to both the industry’s technical jargon and the threat IoT devices pose to users’ online and offline privacy, tech firms are staring down a daunting branding problem. The Internet of Things has become a simple, catchall term for the devices consumers are using now, but the machines on the innovative horizon will supersede that delineation. Whatever it is, the industry’s new term will have to convey new devices’ ability to collect and transmit data as well as any other capabilities they possess. Consumers already lack sufficient knowledge when it comes to understanding the IoT, so a more comprehensive and accessible label would benefit both marketers and the public.
Advantages of IoT
Technology Optimization – The technologies and data help improve device use and aid in more potent improvements to technology and hence IoT unlocks a world of critical functional and field data for you.
Improved Customer Engagement – If you know, the current analytics suffer from blind-spots and significant flaws in accuracy and hence engagement remains passive. Thus, IoT completely transforms the same to achieve more effective engagement with audiences.
Reduced Waste – As IoT makes areas of improvement clear it provides real-world information leading to the more effective management of resources.
Enhanced Data Collection – As modern data collection suffers, its limitations and its design for passive use, IoT has come far from there and places the data collection exactly where humans really want it, so it can actually get analyzed in the world.
Availability – IoT gives the ability to access information from anywhere at any time on any device.
Automate Tasks – IoT by automating tasks helps to improve the quality of business services and reduces the need for human intervention.
Disadvantages of IoT
Security – As IoT creates an ecosystem of constantly connected devices communicating over any networks, the system offers little control despite any security measures and gives the potential to a hacker to steal confidential information.
Privacy – As IoT provides substantial personal data in extreme detail without the user’s active participation.
Complexity – IoT systems get complicated in terms of design, deployment and maintenance given their use of multiple technologies and a large set of new enabling technologies.
Compliance – In the business world, IoT like other technologies must compulsorily comply with its regulations. But its complexity makes compliance incredibly challenging.
Benefits of IoT in Business
IoT actually encourages companies to rethink the ways they approach their businesses and gives them the tools to improve the business strategies they use. Hence IoT can be used to benefit them in different ways, like:
Helps to monitor the overall business processes.
Helps improving customer experience.
Helps saving businesses valuable resources like time and money.
Helps to enhance employee productivity.
Helps to integrate and to adapt any type of business models.
Helps an entrepreneur to make better business decisions.
Regardless of your use or connection, Metro Wireless can ensure that your business has reliable primary or backup Internet solutions.