The Thing About the Internet of Things and Other Things

October 14, 2013 at 12:05 am Leave a comment

It’s been about a dozen years since I passed the fourth grade. That probably doesn’t make me sound particularly old — as it shouldn’t, that’s not the intention of this anecdote. You see, what boggles my mind is that, around that time, it was still often considered unfair for a teacher to ask that a paper be typed on a computer, as a lot of families still didn’t have computers, let alone printers or even — hold the phone (literally) — the internet. Compare that to today, where practically every person you cross on the street is likely concealing one (or several) considerably powerful computers that are perpetually, wirelessly connected to the internet.

It seems a bit old hat to go on about ‘how far we’ve come’ and things like that, though. We’ve all heard it at least a dozen times, computers are getting more powerful and ubiquitous every day — so what else is new?

Well, despite an amalgam of issues with infrastructure, data throughput, storage and dwindling radio spectrum, the next evolution of the ‘Internet’ is still rapidly approaching. There are a number of different interpretations on what that evolution may look like, but all of these theories describe what is generally referred to as an ‘Internet of Things’.

If you’ve ever heard people joke about how ‘pretty soon, everything is going to have an internet connection’, then you have more or less been introduced to the concept of an ‘Internet of Things’. Basically, an ‘Internet of Things’ is an idea of a society where practically all ‘things’ that are bought or sold by humans will be connected to the Internet in one form or another.

Now, to me, it seems that there is a bit of a stigma associated with this concept. People see it as unnecessary, excessive, or in some cases even a little unnerving in a ‘Big Brother’ sort of way.

bigbrother

I wouldn’t say people are wrong for thinking that way — it’s an important thing to consider as we continue to push the boundaries of technology — but I just wanted to play a little devil’s advocate here and talk about a few of the potential applications of this technology that have the ability to do a great amount of good.

For instance, during an emergency situation like a building fire, first responders could be equipped with software to scan for victim’s phones or other internet connected devices in order to ascertain their location. In addition, all of the networked objects in the bulding could be used to allow the firemen to determine the safest path to the located victims, or perhaps to provide them with data on where to concentrate fire suppression for maximum effectiveness.

A more pedestrian, everyday use would be something along the lines of a ‘smart house’. Your fridge would read the RFID tags attached to all of your food products and automatically compile statistics like expiration dates and generate recipes based on the contained food. Your phone would signal to your house when you arrived, whereupon it would turn on lights and set the climate.

In fact, Corning Glass’ series of concept videos for their idea of a ‘smart home’ are a good example of what an ‘Internet of Things’ could look like within a home network.

Most of the technology needed to enable these sorts of interactions with ‘Internets of Things’ exists today, the only thing needed to bring it to life is a proper implementation (easier said than done, of course, but that’s not to say you can’t start messing around with the tech yourself). If anything, I hope this might help you look past the potential downfalls of an ‘Internet of Things’ and see the kinds of incredible advancements in software and technology by incorporating these concepts into our everyday life.

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