One of the latest concepts to emerge from the world of technology in general and cloud technology in particular is what is being called the “Internet of Things”. Despite the fact that the Internet of Things is still relatively new on the tech radar it has been picking up quite a head of steam over the last several months and is expected to be a veritable tour de force within ten or so years. So what exactly does that mean? To put it in the simplest terms there will be very few devices, if any, that are not linked to the internet. For those who have familiarity with the Internet of Things, or the IoT, this is something of a big deal but for those who may be new to this concept, it’s necessary to define our terms.
What Exactly is the IoT
The Internet of Things refers to the ubiquitous connectivity of virtually everything on the planet, at least from a theoretical standpoint. In the IoT, people, animals, and objects are assigned a unique identifier that acts as its virtual representation within an internet-type framework. In other words, almost everything and everyone would be fitted or equipped with some semblance of identifier or identifying device that ideally would improve day-to-day life for the world community. Services like computer repair and IT support would become as seamless as ever and techies would be in even greater demand in the job market than they are today. That is the glass-is-half-full theory but there are of course those who think that singular global connectivity has ominous implications.
The Pew Research Center is currently in the process of conducting an eight-part examination of future technology forecasts. The Center released the second part of this study recently which looks at the possible impact this Internet of Things will be having on the world by the time the year 2025 rolls around. By then it is expected that anyone who is living “on the grid” will have some kind of sensing technology on their person at all times, be it a cell phone, a tablet, or what have you. Not only that but people’s homes and living spaces will be connected as well through the devices that we now use every day.
No Man (Or Thing) is an Island
In 2013, networking giant Cisco estimated that there were upwards of 13 billion devices in the world that were connected to the internet. It is expected that within the next five years there will be nearly five times that many, many of which have yet to be released to the public.
The reaction to the ever expanding IoT by the general public seems positive. Most survey respondents who were asked their opinion about this level of technology expressed a favorable outlook and believe that the benefits will outweigh the risks. The prospect of things like subcutaneous chip technology for real-time storage of and access to financial, medical, and personal data or highways, buildings, and other elements of national infrastructure embedded with some type of sensor tech gives many people hope for things to come.
Some people, however, see the IoT as too big brother-ish; a potentially inescapable web of surveillance and monitoring disguised as benevolence that would erode individual privacy at an even greater rate than is being done now. Both arguments hold water but in the end it seems only time will tell how the Internet of Things will impact an already closely connected world community.