What is the internet of things (IoT)?
Your alarm goes off at 7:30 am. The coffee machine downstairs receives data from the wake-up alarm and immediately begins brewing. Your bedroom blinds begin to open, bringing in the sunlight to stir you from your sleep. Turning off your alarm, you slowly get out of bed and make your way to the bathroom. The lights turn on the moment you enter. Motion sensors deliver data that you’re in the room, they start the shower for you. The shower regulates temperature and amount of water and time so you help save on water costs and environment. After your shower, you grab your toothbrush. It produces toothpaste automatically, and controls the way you brush, how long, and how vigorously.
Once dressed and ready for work, you make your way downstairs to the kitchen. The blinds open as you enter the living room. Your smart TV hangs on the wall, it turns on sensing your presence in the room. You speak a command to tell it to turn on the news. It goes to your favorite news station.
You enter the kitchen and grab yourself a freshly brewed cup of coffee. Your stomach growls and you open the refrigerator. You grab an apple. The fridge senses the apples running low and automatically sends data to the grocery store requesting a new order of organic apples.
As you finish your coffee and your breakfast, your smartwatch goes off, telling you the time: 8:00 am. You better get to work.
Incoming text from: DIANE.
She wants to know what time you’ll be at the office.
A quick voice command sends her back your reply: twenty minutes.
You grab your car keys, and hear the car howl to life in your garage.
You exit the kitchen and the living room, making your way into the garage, the lights and TV turning off as you leave the house. The garage door opens without you having to push any buttons.
You get into the driver’s seat. The car already humming, backs out of the garage and down the driveway. The garage door closes, and you get a notification telling you your house is locked and secure.
The air conditioning in your house turns off to save you money and energy, notifying you of this as well. All lights and unusable energy is off, saving you money on your electric bill, and keeping up with making the environment safe.
You don’t have to touch the steering wheel, the gas or the brake. The car drives itself. Driving down the street and making it’s way down the highway, its adjusts speed, and sets off driving automatically. You begin making your business calls and answering emails. All the cars on the highway sense the distance between each other and keep up with the speed limit. Cars send and receive data from the traffic signs, adjusting speed accordingly. The navigation system in your car knows where it’s going, where construction is, and what roads to avoid. Traffic jams at rush hour are a thing of the past.
Once you get to work, your computer is notified and starts up automatically. As you take the elevator up to your floor, the computer opens priority first emails, files, and folders which you need to attend to. Efficiency is key.
Halfway through your work day, your smartwatch informs you that you are in need of some lunch. It pops up suggestions from the building buffet table informing you of all the healthy options, nutritional breakdown, and caloric intake.
During lunch, you get a notification that the blinds are shutting in your house. It sends you another notification that a package has been delivered to your doorstep.
After lunch, you are notified of meetings and calls that need to take place by your computer. It automatically schedules other meetings and such on your calendar, syncing directly to your phone, your computer at home, and your smartwatch.
As the work day comes to a close, your computer shuts down, your car starts up again as you head down to the parking garage and you make your way home.
The temperature in your house cools down as you pull into the driveway. The doors unlock themselves. You make your way inside.
The lights and smart TV turn on. You grab some leftover chicken from the night before and pop it into the microwave. It regulates temperature by itself and sets the timer for cooking.
You open the liquor cabinet, immediately getting a notification that you’ve done so. You grab yourself a glass and pour some scotch.
The chicken finishes and you grab yourself a plate going into the living room to watch some TV. The kitchen lights turn off behind you, saving electricity.
You get another notification that the package on your doorstep is still there. You go outside to retrieve it.
A notification pops up on your phone informing you that the sprinklers will go on at 4am. You decide against it and it communicates your decision to the sprinklers.
Feeling tired, your smartwatch beeps the time: 9pm. You’d better get to bed so you can get a good full rest.
As you make your way upstairs, the TV turns off and the lights in your bedroom dim. Your alarm sets automatically. You pull off your work clothes and put on your pajamas.
As you lie in bed, ready for sleep, your smart watch tells you that the downstairs plumbing is experiencing problems, and it automatically sends out a service request to Amazon. They will be there tomorrow.
Your smartwatch and phone set themselves to “Do Not Disturb” as the clock turns 9:45 pm. The lights go out, and you shut your eyes. Just another day.
Sounds crazy, right? Like something out of a sci-fi movie. Only this time, it’s real. As the Internet of Things slowly begins to be implemented into our daily lives, we only wonder, what next?
Robots perhaps? Talking, functioning robots?
The movie iRobot, starring Will Smith might be a little outdated. The CGI isn’t quite what it should be of course given the fact that the computer animation graphics technology was progressing in Hollywood during the time of its release. (That in itself could be a whole other blog post: Hollywood and technology). The year that it takes place is 2035. It’s basically posing the question: when will machine surpass human intelligence? And if/when it does, will we have to consider robots human?
Funny, how far off that doesn’t seem to be. Robots, maybe but considering what has been happening around the world, the first artificial intelligence has already been recognized. In recent months, a machine went through a kind of test called the Turing Test, named after brilliant mathematician Alan Turing. Similar to the movie, Imitation Game (as what the test is called) is what is known when the computer/machine tricks humans into believing it is human. One machine passed that test back in 2014.
Speculation is that machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence in the year 2040. Not even that, but a semi-autonomous car is in the works for 2020. That is five years away! Five years. Given the fact that technology has progressed at a tremendous speed, who knows when we’ll all have robots in our houses, in our classrooms, in the hospital… Crazy. Not so crazy.
Everyone loves cars. Imagine what a self-driving car could accomplish? The possibilities are endless. If a self-driving car could regulate your speed on the highway, there would be no such thing as rush hour anymore. Handicapped people could drive in a self-driving car without having to worry about their medical condition.
Ever heard of the term “black box”? It’s an airplane device that communicate to the authorities after a plane crash; it contains the details of what happened and why. Scientists are in the works of adding this to future smart cars in order to determine malfunctioning or who is at liability after a car accident. If determining who is at fault in a car accident, I believe that lawsuits would decrease because we’d know who is responsible for the accident, leaving no room for lying. Insurance companies would be able to use the black box as a means of setting a cost for drivers who are reckless and drivers who are cautious. In the application of a black box, drivers would hopefully increase their awareness and decrease accidents on the roads.
Another interesting thing which saves the environment and introduces smart cars onto roads, is a thing called solar roadways. A startup project generating lots of dollars, plans to establish solar panels on every road, highway, street, and parking lot so that cars are operated by the sun. It saves on the environment and really sheds a new light on the modern automobile.
Robots. Machines. A breakthrough robot called Milo is changing the way we teach children with autism. For instance, children with autism have a difficult time in communicating in social environments, especially with their human teachers. Eye contact is quite difficult for them, but amazingly, autistic children excel when it comes to technology. When Milo is brought into a room with an autistic child, the child’s face lights up instantly. Milo can express “emotions” through facial expressions and reactions all the while aiding and teaching the child social interactions. It’s quite amazing really.
This is only just a scratch on the surface of the Internet of Things. Much, much more is to come. Everyday the world is vastly changing, perhaps gradually, but a change nonetheless. Technology is skyrocketing towards a never-ending world inhabited by the use of “smart” machines, robots, etc. It’s really quite fascinating. Endless possibilities in sight, it’s like something out of a Jules Verne novel or a Disney theme park.
There are concerns among scientists and the general public that are surfacing as the demand for technology increases. The utilization of smart technology in houses, cars, etc. brings up a privacy concern. Our private lives are very important to us, but the fact that businesses know when consumers need a certain item, or when a machine is malfunctioning, or the gathering of data, brings up a scary reality. Nothing will ever be private anymore. Does it sound a bit like Big Brother to you?
For instance, a recent article came out about a Samsung smart TV. Apparently, the consumer is subject to third party transmission through the use of voice recognition. The smart TV is able to recognize your voice and your voice commands, but it can record sensitive information you may say around the TV which then sends to a third party with that particular data.
Another great concern that scientists are facing are the ever present but very invisible: hackers. If your car or home that operates on smart technology is ever accessed by hackers, they could easily mess up your machines, spread a virus, or break into your house. If every information and identification is kept on our smart devices, hackers could create their own code in order to access that and perhaps steal your identity.
With this I am reminded of the movie, Live Free or Die Hard. Bruce Willis plays his John McClane character against cyber terrorist who basically shut entire cities down with the touch of a couple buttons.
If not cyber terrorists, then the revolution of robots. If technology should ever surpass human intelligence, what could this mean for us? Science fiction is all about creating fear around something we actually don’t know much about. Creating fear based on the fact that left to our own devices, we will fail our fellow human beings.
Maybe we don’t get that dramatic. But with technology at our hands all day, we can’t ignore the fact that it is in some way changing the brain. We’re becoming dumber or smarter, less social interaction, more social networking. There are pros and cons to the vast technological consumer. The world is at our hands, but is that a good thing?
As you close your eyes you begin to drift off in a sleep full of dreams. Perhaps one day data will always be surrounding us, I mean it is now. Maybe one day we will have little robot slaves to work for us, to teach us, to help us. Perhaps we’ll create chaos and destruction with the touch of a button. But if kept under control, technology can do so much good for us. Our daily routines will forever be changed in five years, ten years, who knows how long the future of tomorrow will bring. However you view technology, as cautious or as an embrace, the world is changing quickly. The fact of the matter is, it’s already here. We just have to click on it.