“Anything that can be connected will be connected.” — Jacob Morgan1
“Everything that can be automated will be automated.” — Robert Cannon2
The Internet of Things: It’s real, it’s happening, and it’s growing every day. It’s
also very much in development — it’s hard to know the size or state of the
Internet of Things, because it is evolving so rapidly.
WHAT IS THE INTERNET OF THINGS?
THE EVER-GROWING INTERNET OF THINGS
Internet of Things is a broad term used to describe the
application of network connectivity to physical objects. These
objects — sometimes called smart objects — are embedded
with electronics and software that make them capable of
sensing, collecting, and transmitting information.
You’ve heard of smart watches, smartphones (you probably
have one), smart televisions. What about a smart washer or
dryer, 3 a smart sprinkler system, 4 or a smart pacemaker? 5
Adding “smart” in front of a noun generally means that it is
connected to a network, collecting information, and storing
it or sending it elsewhere. A toaster will toast your bread. A
smart toaster will toast your bread to the specifications you’ve
made on an iPhone app, track your toast consumption, store
your toasting preferences, let you know when a nearby grocery
store has a sale on your favorite gluten-free bread, send your
phone a notification when your toast is done, and print the
day’s weather forecast on your toast, 6 because why not?
These objects also connect with other objects and engage
in bidirectional information transfer. Your smart refrigerator7
can connect to your iPhone. Your fridge gives your phone
information like what food you have and how much energy
you are using. Using the app on your phone, you tell your
fridge at what temperature you want your lettuce stored.
Smart objects can also connect to a wide variety of other
objects, including other appliances and machines. This creates
a network — an Internet of Things. That network grows as
more and more objects are equipped with gadgetry and are
made electronically compatible with one another.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
A lot. Three important capabilities of the Io T have
significant ramifications on individual and societal
levels: data collection, remote control capability, and
communication between objects.
Smart objects can collect and compile massive amounts
of data, and the Internet of Things allows for that data to
be rapidly aggregated. When you combine those mountains
of data points with the techniques and technologies studied
and developed in various data sciences, the result is useful
information that makes life easier.
Data collection on a larger scale means more information
and can be used on a societal or even global level. Every day,
millions of cars drive in the San Francisco Bay area. Many of
the people in those cars have GPS-enabled smartphones with
them. For navigation apps like Waze, Google Maps, and Beat