Making the Internet of Things Work In the Real World

December 7, 2015

8:00 pm

The Internet of Things (IoT) is predicted to take over the world. By 2020, over 30 billion devices should be connected to the internet, with new creations such as self-driving cars, smart light bulbs, and smart jackets making it possible for us to live the Sci-Fi dream in under a decade.

However, with all these ambitious goals, some are still wary of how realistic the Internet of Things’ projections actually are. With the smart technology we have already, and hyper converged infrastructure still being developed, issues with security, privacy, and sustainability are rising up to make many consumers trust the tried and proven ‘dumb’ way of doing things.

Can we have the life of the Jetsons while still keeping reality in check? Each of the concerns raised have a possible solution to create a balance between science fantasy and science reality.

Privacy

The Internet of Things connects all our devices to the internet; this means a propane gauge that has an app on your phone, a coffee maker that can connect to your alarm clock, and a smartwatch that has access to your email. The advantage for consumers is greater ease than ever before, and the advantage for businesses is greater data-gathering abilities, which helps them customize their products to be most pleasing to customers. However, gathering data is just like it sounds – they gather information on your habits, actions, and purchases. This makes many users concerned about the true nature of their privacy, and what lengths businesses will take to gather this data. How can the IoT still work without invading our privacy?

Balance is the key. The internet has always gathered information on users, using tools like Big Data to gauge trends and interests. The method for keeping private information private has been one important thing – consent. Websites that gather great amounts of information must offer visitors a chance to turn down data gathering and restrict what data can be given; such cookies can even be blocked by third party software. By the IoT using this same approach, innovation and a respect for privacy can go hand-in-hand.

Security

Since so much data is being gathered, it’s easy for hackers to tap into this great pool of information and wreak havoc. This can mean stealing personal information, but it can also mean using the IoT as a stepping stone to gaining access to other information. With hyper connectivity making it easy to link so many devices together, the road is a lot shorter between hacking into your smartwatch and eventually hacking into your bank.

Taking after the cloud’s more advanced systems for safeguarding against hackers is an option, essentially making security part of the skeletal structure of the device itself. With built-in checkpoints and thorough verification techniques, the device may become more cumbersome and slower in processing, but the tradeoff is a safer device that users can trust.

Economic Impacts

The IoT is centered on cutting out the middleman in transactions such as paying bills, hiring a taxi, or even taking out your trash. However, in doing so, the person otherwise hired for the position is now out of a job. To balance out the monetary instability, greater prices have to be set to make the creation of the object, the maintenance of the object, and the person without a job cost-effective. This can lead to an imbalance in the effort-to-reward ratio.

The solution can be found with the problem; businesses succeed when they look at the financial wisdom of an investment rather than its visual appeal. While an internet-connected trashcan may be an interesting tool to have, the business which creates it is unlikely to see a return on their investment – the customer will find it too costly to buy. Therefore, if a business focuses its funding on more valuable and useful products, jobs are kept, usefulness is ensured, profits are made, and the balance is maintained to allow the IoT to flourish.

The Internet of Things still has a long way to go, with new projects, innovations, and roadblocks arising every step of the way. By balancing creativity with common sense, the IoT can reach its ambitious goals without making sacrifices, perhaps coming up with even newer solutions to these old problems.

Image Credit: Flickr / cropped, resized

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“I’ve been blessed to have a successful career and have recently taken a step back to pursue my passion of writing. I’ve started doing freelance writing and I love to write about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet. I also write for Dell every once and awhile.” – Rick DelGado

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