The Internet of Things — or IoT — is a term that is becoming increasingly familiar in discussions surrounding modern technology. The IoT refers to the billions of devices around the world that are now ‘smart’ — connected to each other via wireless networks and sharing data.
This advancement in technology has been a long time coming. The phrase was coined as early as 1999 by British tech guru Kevin Ashton, but it took at least another decade for the tech sphere to catch up. Now, due to the minuscule size of computer chips and the speed at which wireless technology can function, the IoT is set to dominate our daily lives (despite, perhaps, ongoing concerns surrounding the internet of things security).
The question on a lot of people’s minds; how is this set to affect us as consumers? The IoT has been linked to increased potential in the marketing fields of personalization and general customer convenience. Having access to unprecedented levels of customer data is sure to shake a few things up. Where have we already begun to witness the great benefits that being connected to the IoT can bring? What does the future hold for this industry? And should we be worried about security concerns related to the IoT? Read on to find out more.
What exactly is the Internet of Things?
It’s an odd name, isn’t it? The Internet of Things refers to the ability of everyday objects to communicate with each other, and with the user. A term commonly used to describe this kind of technology is ‘smart’. Think ‘smart homes’ — a lightbulb that can be turned on via your phone or ‘smart device’ — a watch that can monitor your heart rate. On a mass scale, the IoT is likely to lead to the future development of ‘smart cities’ — cities built upon frameworks connected via technology, that promote sustainable development and address growing challenges posed by urbanization. Pretty neat!
Computers and phones are generally understood to not be part of the Internet of Things. The term is usually reserved for objects you would not expect to have network capabilities and those that can communicate without requiring human intervention.
The IoT is rapidly growing. Tech intelligence agency IDC estimates that by 2025, there will be over 41.6 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things.
More devices connected = more user data. It’s pretty simple. The IoT is shaking up the way we interact with nearly every object, turning them into interactive touchpoints rich with marketing potential. Networked objects offer unparalleled insight into consumer data with the IoT promising to make our home and office environments smarter and more measurable.
Marriott Hotels, in partnership with Samsung, recently announced the development of the ‘IoT Guestroom Lab’, an innovative hotel room that allows for every aspect of your stay to be personalized. This includes the in-room temperature, lights, wake up call, the artwork on the walls, and the precise temperature of your shower. The customer signs up to Marriott Rewards to pre-load their preferences and arrives at their hotel room to a completely personalized experience.
This is just one example of the thousands of ways in which the Internet of Things (and the data collected from consumers) has been utilized to create a seamless user experience.
Internet of Things security — should I be worried?
The level of personalization offered by the Internet of Things can make some people wary of engaging. This is not entirely without good reason. It is disconcerting enough to have Instagram ads appear for a product you were just searching for on Google, let alone having your fridge send you an alert when you’re low on milk.
Any device that is connected to the internet offers opportunities for cybercriminals to steal your personal details — your name, age, health records, financial information, and more. IoT devices in the home are often operated via your smartphone, a hotspot of personal data and the devices themselves become ‘smart’ by collecting more and more personal data. Concerns surrounding the Internet of Things security are legitimate.
The IoT offers unparalleled opportunities in terms of convenience and user experience. There are a few points you should keep in mind in order to keep you, your home, and family safe when taking advantage of these benefits:
- Install reputable internet security software on all your devices — computers, smartphones, and tablets.
- Be wary when downloading apps, which are often required to activate IoT devices. Make sure you do your research and ensure that the app is not collecting unauthorized data or tracking your movements.
- Ensure you fully understand the smart devices you are installing in your home. You should know what kind of data they are collecting, where it is stored, and how it is protected.
- Use a VPN to protect the data transmitted from your devices, whether at home or in a public setting.
- Make sure to regularly update the firmware in your IoT devices. This will ensure they are operating using the manufacturer’s recommended security settings.
The IoT is sure to completely revolutionize the way we live our daily lives, through creating customized user experiences. Provided that you are careful, and understand the devices that you are using and how they work, you can look forward to a safe, uniquely personalized future.
Bridget is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys traveling and curating her Spotify playlists.