Internet of Everything
What will we do with all this data?! Continuing the tone from my last post about the future of technologies hinging on how we approach cybersecurity, we’ll now take a look at the exponential explosion in the number of connected devices. IoT or “Internet of Things” is another word being thrown around lately – however, this buzzword may actually have some weight behind it in terms of execution and prevalence. Why? Simply because whatever can be connected to the internet, most likely will be – whether it’s useful/helpful to us as a society or not.
The latest craze these days seems to be remote accessibility – ranging from doorbells, to baby monitors to package delivery by Amazon when nobody is home. There are of course many not-so-useful applications of IoT – such as connected toothbrushes (Why?! Who is screaming out for an internet enabled toothbrush?!) – but the fact remains that whether or not it’s useful seems to be irrelevant at this stage. Companies are touting the “more data is better” mantra as a way of coming up with products and services that are internet enabled. Which makes you think – is IoT just a well marketed ploy to get at your hard earned dollars? The formula at this stage seems to be – connect device x to internet, receive abc data points about device, save money/time/effort, be happy! It seems simple enough, and on the surface, the benefits seem obvious.
So, taking into account the inevitability of an exponential increase in connected devices, we need to look at the human aspect of IoT. Information overload is very often an overlooked aspect of the digital revolutions taking place around us. It is having a huge impact on the way we live, think and behave, both as individuals and as a collective society. Screen addiction is already a growing problem, especially among younger generations. Amplify the current state by 10x, and you have a serious addiction problem to deal with on a global level – and it will cost us in the long run; both in terms of productivity and mental health issues. Quoting from an article I read – “By 2025, an average connected person anywhere in the world will interact with connected devices nearly 4,800 times per day. That’s one interaction every 18 seconds.”
Apart from the very human consequences of information overload, there is the technical challenge of volume. The sheer volumes of data that connected devices will produce needs to be stored somewhere so it can be analysed and distilled into usable information for the end user. It is estimated that by 2025, we will produce 163 zettabytes of data. The challenge is then passed on to other technologies, like cloud storage and big data – to sift through the mountains of data, distil it to valuable information and business/consumer insights, and do it all in a secure way.
All in all, it seems inevitable that any device/product you can think of will soon be connected to the internet, and will start producing data at an unimaginable level. The success of IoT fundamentally revolves around whether we’re able to cope with this volume of data from a storage, analysis and security perspective and whether we’re able to provide real significant value back to consumers and businesses. We must also ensure the human aspect is taken into account when architecting the use and implementation of connected devices.