Internet of Things: the Good, the Bad and the Future
No one can deny that technology has taken a quantum leap in a few short years, and it continues to develop faster than most of us can keep up with. One of the most rapidly growing sectors of technology is the Internet of Things (IoT), where devices interact with other devices to keep people connected. IoT provides convenience and mobility to millions of users, but the many benefits of Internet of Things have to be weighed against its dark side.
Internet of Things technology leverages the Internet to connect everyday electronic devices embedded with software and sensors to each other. IoT lets your smart devices communicate, send, receive and interpret data and information from connected devices anywhere in the world, in real time.
Whether you know it or not, you probably already use IoT technology. If you wear a fitness tracker or smart watch, integrate your car’s sound system and GPS with your phone, use ride share services like Uber or Lyft, or use your smart device to interact with your bank account, you are leveraging the Internet of Things.
But the applications of IoT software go far beyond your personal use, with a multitude of applications for business, industry, government and finance.
Advantages of Internet of Things
The practical uses of IoT technology are growing at such a rapid pace that it would be impossible to list them all in a single article. Clearly, the phenomenal adoption and growth of IoT is evidence enough that the technology provides profound advantages.
Some Internet of Things benefits include:
- Connectivity: It wasn’t so long ago that we needed a variety of different devices and remote control pads to enjoy the advantages of technology. Remember when your mobile phone was just a phone, and you had separate devices for listening to music, taking pictures, accessing the Internet and enjoying your favorite movies and TV shows? No one could have predicted in the 1990s that we would have all the knowledge in the universe available at our fingertips in 2020. IoT gives us connectivity to people and devices all over the world.
- Efficiency: All that connectivity saves us time, money and energy. We can get things done in seconds that once took hours. IoT has made it possible for many of us to work from home, saving time on commuting and money on gas, not to mention the cost of parking, work attire, grooming, lunch and other work-related expenses. We can communicate with the office from anywhere, and no longer have to lug a briefcase full of files with us on business trips. In fact, even business trips are becoming passé as online meetings become the norm.
- Convenience: IoT makes everything easier in our business and personal lives. No more trips to the bank to make deposits and withdraw money. No more buying stamps and envelopes to pay your bills. No more forrays to the library or government agencies to access information, data, forms or documents. Music, book and video stores are largely relics of the past as we tap into streaming services and ebooks. We can even buy groceries, learn a language or earn an advanced degree without ever leaving home.
- Health, fitness and wellness: Wearable technology is enjoying immense popularity, and it will only continue to grow as wearable devices become smarter. Monitor your heart rate and blood pressure, keep an eye on your body temperature, clock your performance and more from your watch or fitness tracker. Medically implanted devices (IMDs) are also tapping into IoT to regulate pacemakers, defibrillate heart arrhythmias, pump insulin and stimulate the brain. The recent global pandemic ushered in a huge surge in TeleHealth, eliminating the need to visit your doctor in person for a checkup or prescription, thanks to IoT.
- Environment: IoT holds great promise for protecting our planet and making life on earth more sustainable. Smart technology can help us monitor and control our usage of water, energy and natural resources. It can increase the efficiency of manufacturing, monitor air and water pollution and reduce waste. IoT technology is being used to stop deforestation from illegal logging and protect endangered species from poachers. It is even being used to track bee populations and monitor the conditions of beehives.
- Personalization: It’s no coincidence that when you go online to find a certain type of product or service, it very quickly comes looking for you. Every time you do a web search or visit a website, data is mined on your consumer behavior, and either sold or exploited by businesses to create a personalized web experience. The types, cost and quality of products and services you purchase online tell a story about your tastes and preferences, and even your income bracket. Your web searches for vacation destinations, medical services, dating sites and fitness memberships provides information to e-commerce that creates a consumer profile. The types of music or movies you access from streaming services influences the options you are shown first on your next visit. Like it or not, if you use the Internet as a consumer, you are being profiled and your shopping journey is being personalized.
Pros and Cons of Internet of Things
Despite its many advantages, the benefits of IoT need to be weighed against its dark side.
Data mining: If the idea of consumer personalization makes your skin crawl a bit, it is because data mining is a gross invasion of privacy. Despite being a right that is guaranteed and protected by the US Constitution, personal privacy is becoming increasingly difficult to safeguard in a connected world. And as profitable as data mining may be for businesses, it offers very few advantages to the individual consumer.
Surveillance: Data mining’s dirty cousin, surveillance, goes beyond pilfering consumer data to invading your personal life. We know that smart devices can see, hear and read what we do, say and communicate. We simply have no idea how that information is being used, or by whom, and its potential for evil is enormous.
Cybercrime: As we become increasingly reliant on IoT technology for everyday living, we make ourselves more vulnerable to cybercriminals. Sophisticated hackers can violate the security of any and all smart devices, including your computer, tablet or smartphone, your medical devices, TV, webcam, home security system and more.
Employer oversight: With remote work becoming commonplace, IoT could potentially free humanity from being imprisoned in an office or cubicle five days a week, enabling us to travel, relocate or make our schedules more flexible. But don’t get too comfy working in your PJs. Orwellian new software is being used by some employers to keep workers shackled to their computers, monitoring every keystroke made and website visited. Such excessive overreach may soon make us nostalgic for the good old days at the office, when we could dawdle in the break room or sneak in some online shopping without our masters breathing down our necks.
Give Your Business the Benefits of IoT with Tateeda
The Internet of Things is growing at an exponential pace, and businesses need to keep in step if they want to stay relevant in today’s competitive environment. To see how your business can be more connected, efficient and productive, contact Tateeda and let us show you how IoT technology can impact your company’s growth, security and profitability, today and in the future.