So my 13-year-old son has a friend over to stay and heads huddled together they appear to be watching a film on the friend’s Kindle when my phone starts pinging with texts from the friend’s mum that their TV has randomly started doing its own thing. Whoops of joy from the boys and air punches indicated there was nothing random about this incident. Welcome to the connected generation and the internet of things (IoT).
The boys had linked the Kindle to the TV and were playing the same film on the TV at the friend’s house. It took his parents several minutes to work out how to log out the Kindle so they could regain control of their television and their supposed child free evening.
IoT is not only here and here to stay but as my son and his friend demonstrated, it’s already very much a part of our everyday life.
Whilst IoT on a much larger scale has yet to truly manifest itself with everything from our fridges and cars connected to the internet and telling us things like the temperature needs to be adjusted to keep our food properly chilled to alerting the dealership and the driver that a car requires a service, we are already experiencing its influence. Hands up those of you who control your heating and hot water remotely using the British Gas smart thermostat just because you can?!
However, those of you who fear a world where Big Brother watches your every move and your everyday appliances let alone your bank details are more vulnerable to hackers than ever before, can take comfort in the fact that whilst we are certainly moving in that direction, the complexity of integrating multiple systems and software means IoT, for the moment, will not dominate our lives. For the IoT to really gain momentum issues such as a central host and robust controls of data, which sees consumers in control, also need to be addressed.
Despite its growing prominence as well as the amount of information now banded about discussing IoT and its impact, a staggering 87% of people have never heard of it, American business magazine Forbes recently reported. Despite this, Forbes tells us, we have been exposed to IoT technology since 1974 when the first ATM became operational and there were more things connected to the internet in 2008 than there were people.
The Forbes article by Bernard Marr, also one of LinkedIn’s influencers, reports some predictions which suggest more than 50 billion things will be connected to the internet by 2020 of which 6.1 billion will be smartphones and a quarter of a billion will be cars. Meanwhile, machine-to-machine (M2M) connections are predicted to grow from 5 billion at the beginning of this year to 27 billion by 2024, with the charge being led by China followed by the U.S. Implications such as convenience and money saving by having so many connected devices, durables and equipment is huge, so we are told.
So whilst we thought it was just plain funny that my son and his friend were able to control the TV by simply using a device in a separate house some five miles away, it does hint at the possibilities. And for my son and his peers such feats may just score them minor victories over their parents currently, but will undoubtedly become the norm for the generation which comes of age alongside the Internet of Things.