Rich Crocco

The Internet of Things is Coming, Like it or Not

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The Internet of Things (IoT) craze has grown to the point where the government is getting involved. Recently the U.S. Senate passed a resolution calling for a National Strategy on the subject. It was only months ago that I was hearing the term Internet of Things, but didn’t have a clue what it meant (not to mention the funny little acronym IoT. Now I’m seeing tech events popping up around the country utterly dedicated to the subject. Maybe I’m just late to the game here but it seems like IoT is gaining a lot of momentum.

So what to make of this craze? Some experts are saying it will be the next major shift in how the internet affects our daily lives. Some experts also say IoT is the largest reason the internet will be shifting from the traditional IPv4 protocol to the more robust IPv6. With IPv6 the number of IP addresses the internet can handle multiplies exponentially. The exact number is 3.4 X 10^38 if that means anything to you (not much to me!), the point is we won’t be running out of addresses anytime soon after the transition. The World Economic Forum projects by the year 2020 there will be 5 billion people on the internet along with 50 billion ‘things.’ Right now there are approximately 3 billion people connected along with 14 billion ‘things.’ The ‘things’ part of that statistic represents a 250% increase in five years.

So what is the Internet of Things? The most straight forward definition I have come across is that it represents any object that can be equipped with a sensor and connected to the internet. This can be household appliances like your refrigerator or air conditioner, self-driving cars, wearables like Google Glass or even baby monitors. Imagine monitoring your newborn’s temperature, heart rate, etc. 24 hours a day!

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The next question is “How do you feel about IoT?” Do you think it’s too much automation? Do we really need to know the contents of our refrigerators from our desk at work?  Do think innovators are creating things for us just because they can? Or do you think this is just the natural progression of technology? I am in the camp of the latter. There were people and experts alike which thought the internet itself was a short term craze and would fizzle out. I’m sure there will be a time when the Internet of Things is considered normal if not essential.

Another major factor to consider here is security. Cybersecurity is growing in importance daily, as we see more and more examples of how a lack of cybersecurity can affect us. Stolen credit card data, medical information, etc. have put millions of people at risk. Once we have billions of new hackable devices connected to the internet, does the benefit outweigh the increased risk? In the article, “Welcome to Privacy Hell, also known as the Internet of Things” Lauren Zanolli explains how security has been left behind. She says, “The rush for cheaper, faster, and smaller devices usually leaves security by the wayside.”

Soon IoT devices will be off the tech event circuit and being purchased for our homes, cars, families and more. We will have to weigh privacy concerns and risks with the benefits of these devices, as we do with all technology purchases (whether we realize it or not). Another debate we will have is what role government will be playing in the IoT world, think Net Neutrality legislation.

Do you intend to jump on board with IoT?  Please leave me your comments.

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