Have you ever come across the Berennis Smart Light Bulb? While taking a stroll in the mall, I came across this fantastic shop full of digital electronics. Upon inquiring, I came to know that these light bulbs could easily be operated by my smartphone. They are highly energy-efficient and work in sync with Alexa and Google Assistant both. The best part, however, these bulbs come in 16 million colors and hues of white and can be adjusted via our smartphones. I don’t even know if this claim is true or not? But I would certainly appreciate the design and innovation put in the making of the bulb. I just have one word for this. Internet of Things.
In my previous article on Smartphones, I talked about one possibility about the future of smartphones, which involves ” Making Smart Homes for the Future”.
With the IoT, we’re headed to a world where things aren’t liable to break catastrophically – or at least, we’ll have a hell of a heads’ up. We’re headed to a world where our doors unlock when they sense us nearby.Scott Weiss
Imagine waking up and telling Google to play some soft music, then telling your refrigerator to prepare a glass of juice. And then adjusting the thermostat with your voice. Getting ready and then telling your door to open. Then you tell your Google Assistant to switch off all the electrical appliances as you exit your house for your work. Nice fantasy, huh. Well, not anymore. We have already achieved all this. Now, the only problem left is accessibility to these features. Most rich people already have penthouses like these. Soon, this will spread out to the middle class and will become a norm. Again the same word. Internet of Things.
What exactly is Internet of Things?
If you Google up this term, you will find a collection of definitions that you might not even understand. So, I’m gonna skip that part and explain it to you in a manner involving the least number of technical words.
Now look at your smartphone. Think of all the things it can do. Calling someone, messaging someone, listening to music, accessing the Internet, making notes, using the calculator, reading PDFs. Now, think back 20 or 30 years before, could you have done these via your then handset? The answer would be a straight forward no. Right?
So, what exactly constitutes the difference? Yup, you are thinking right. It’s the Internet. In fact, you are connected to the Internet. That is why you can read this article on the web.
So, what would happen if even more things have access to the Internet?
They will be smarter, just like your smartphone.
In 1999, Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer coined the term “Internet of Things”. In layman’s language, the Internet of Things (or IoT), refers to connected devices that can transfer data over a network (like a WiFi) without requiring any human input. IoT aims to expand the scope of connectivity from just our smartphones and computers to a whole plethora of other objects including cars, fans, light bulbs, watches, speakers, and other electrical appliances in our homes.
Believe it or not, in 2018, it was estimated that around 4.9 billion objects were connected to each other. That is even more than number of people who have access to the Internet, even today in 2020.
It’s usefulness has made it one of the most emerging fields under Artificial Intelligence.
How does Internet of Things work?
The Internet of Things, or IoT as it is popularly called, works on two things mainly. Let’s understand with the help of an example.
Suppose you want your door to open as soon as you are in front of it. So, there should be a sensor always ready to check for your presence. Now, you can’t just let the door open for anyone. So, there must be something to authenticate your presence. If authenticated, the door will open, otherwise, it won’t.
The work of authentication can be done by assessing your voice when you say ” Open the Door”. So you see, the two things at work.
- A device that collects information and gives it to the network. For example a sensor.
- A device that enacts on the received information via the network. Like the door pulley.
In fact there are devices that themselves do both the tasks. Do sprinklers in big farms need to be manually switched on and off. No. Sensors detect the presence of water and operate according to it.
Why irritate the farmer for such a small task?
The current IoT market
Tech companies like Google and Amazon are at the spearhead of the IoT revolution. While both of them are actively improving their Home Assistant services, it’s hard to tell who is leading the revolution. So let’s just call it a tie.
Google bought smart thermostat maker, Nest Labs, for $3.2 billion in 2014. While Samsung purchased connected home company SmartThings for $200 million.
Microsoft acquired Express Logic in 2019. It is a San Diego based company that developed a real-time operating system (RTOS) aimed at controlling the growing number of IoT devices in the world. You can read about the deal here.
The list of acquisitions goes on and on. These examples are stated to show you, that everybody has recognized the socio-economic value of IoT.
According to a report by Progressive Policy, IoT is expected to contribute $600 billion to $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2025.
Why are experts concerned?
If all is bright and shiny when it comes to IoT, why are experts even concerned? This statement is often echoed in discussions. These are people who have accepted the fact that no matter what, AI will bring the downfall of the human race.
And here we are, thinking that corona virus is endgame?
Well, experts are not wrong when worrying about the future of IoT. But we can’t let that hinder the progress. We just need to tread carefully.
Experts are concerned that since people will live in smart houses, their privacy will be infringed. And their security will be under imminent and constant threat. Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows?
An article on Forbes covers the summarised discussion of the Young Entrepreneur Council held in 2018. It focused on the concerns of the future pertaining to the Internet of Things.
The list includes-
- Insecure Devices
- Trolls And Bad Players
- Lack Of Updates
- Data Breaches
Everybody accepts the fact that Artificial Intelligence can have two faces. The same goes for the Internet of Things. We need to keep these concerns in our minds and then move forward.
After all, AI is the future, and the future is here.