What the heck is the Internet of Things?

June 12, 2017


There’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard this term bandied around amongst the techies in your life. Let’s start straight off the bat with challenging some common misconceptions around ‘the Internet of Things’, shall we?

Here’s what the Internet of things isn’t.

The Internet of Things does not mean that you can search Google using your garden furniture.

The Internet of Things doesn’t give you the ability to scan your DVD collection to find info.

You won’t be able to ‘browse’ your underwear drawer.

Your weekly shop doesn’t automatically become a meme.

It’s not IoT when you just have stuff, and are simultaneously connected to the Internet.

Haha, very funny. OK, what IS the Internet of Things?

The ‘Internet of Things’ is a phrase used to describe a growing trend amongst the physical objects that make up our daily lives.

You know how there’s an increasing amount of devices out there that are termed ‘smart’ or ‘connected’? These devices are the kind of thing that would fit under the umbrella of Internet of Things. We’re talking about smoke alarms which you can control remotely. Watches (and even rings) that measure your fitness rate. Dog collars that track the whereabouts of your pet.

The Internet of Things blurs the lines between what is technology, and what is not. So, the aforementioned underwear drawer would fit under the IoT umbrella if, for example, it notified you when you needed to do your laundry.

This new level of connectivity has huge implications for both consumers and businesses across the world. We’ve heard that by 2020, half of new businesses will run on IoT. We’re one step further to the Singularity.

Go on then, give us some examples of how this works

Devices that use an app

Lots of these bits of tech make the most of mobile technology, to ensure that you can control every aspect of your life, on the go. So, if you want to check in and amend the temperature control in your house before you leave work, that’s now possible.

Devices that talk to each other

Sometimes devices are there purely to check in with each other. Certain brands like Google and Amazon are creating suites of devices that work in tandem, for example Amazon Echo can act as a smart personal assistant that links up all your other Internet of Things devices, as a one-stop-shop for controlling your home.

Smart’ devices

If you see an ordinary thing that’s termed as ‘smart’, that’s a pretty good clue that it’s part of the Internet of Things. ‘Smart’ devices are all about automation and can cleverly figure stuff out that you’d have to do yourself manually.

One example is the Samsung Family Hub 2.0, a ‘smart’ fridge which turns your fridge into an awesome entertainment system and revolutionises how you manage and organise your shopping and weekly meals. It’ll also tell you if the food is past its sell-by-date and notify you if you’re running low on a snacking staple.

The Future

The world is becoming more and more connected and it makes sense that previously ‘dumb’ objects like chairs, cars and cat flaps will gradually become more technical, flexible and smart. Maybe soon your seat can adjust itself to improve your posture. Your car can now be switched on through a voice command to your AI personal assistant while you’re still in bed. And your cat’s movements can be tracked and analysed overnight. Looks like we’re entering a pretty exciting, and pretty mental, technical age.

Main image via Getty