When will Your Fridge connect to Your Car?
I’m sure by now that you’re well aware of Google’s Smart Car Project, now called Waymo. The project has developed a long way since Google started on in 2007 and the have recently proudly announced that they now have a fully self-driving car. Likewise, you’re likely to have heard of a “Smart Fridge”, but have you heard of “Internet of Things” and what does it mean for your household in the very near future?
Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept of connecting any device with an On and Off switch to the internet and it is being developed at a fast-pace by big companies including Microsoft and Samsung. You’ll have already seen extremely convenient features for consumers such as remote-controlled heating systems and lighting systems, but this also applies to machines, for example an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.
The analyst firm Gartner says that by 2020 there will be over 26 billion connected devices… That’s a lot of connections!
The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people), but why would you ever want all of your home appliances to be connected to each other?! Interestingly, there are some relatively obvious examples which make everything extremely convenient!
Let’s say for example that you are on your way to a meeting. If your car had access to your calendar from your phone/laptop, it will already know the best route to take, and what if the traffic is heavy? You’re car could send a text to the other party to let them know that you might be late, or it could even set your alarm clock to wake you up slightly earlier so that you get there on time. Of course, don’t worry about waiting around to turn your coffee maker on and for the coffee to be made because you’re alarm clock would be able to do that for you so that its ready and waiting!
In the bigger picture, an entire city could all be inter-connected, allowing us to all simultaneously become more energy efficient and could even help to reduce delays on public transport and generally giving us an understanding of how we work and live.
So what now, and how long will it take for all of this to happen? In reality, its going to be a long time until an entire city could be connected by Internet of Things, and it would also take a lot of money to do so however, slowly but surely, the world is becoming interconnected by consumer appliances such as Smart Fridges, Smart Cars and Smart TV’s. Inevitably, there are huge hurdles that manufacturers will need to jump over; with any internet-connected device, security is a huge concern. With billions of devices being connected together, what can people do to make sure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your toaster and thereby get access to your entire network?
Conversations about the IoT are (and have been for several years) taking place all over the world as we seek to understand how this will impact our lives. We are also trying to understand what the many opportunities and challenges are going to be as more and more devices start to join the IoT. For now the best thing that we can do is educate ourselves about what the IoT is and the potential impacts that can be seen on how we work and live.