The fundamental advantage of IoT

Internet Connection

By Christian Johan Smith, TrackR

I grew up in Selden, Kansas, in a family of wheat farmers. Manually harvesting wheat was an extremely tedious and laborious work, involving cutting and bundling by hand. However, this changed in the dawn of 19th century United States which saw the Industrial Revolution introduce new machines that automated tasks such as harvesting wheat. This gave farmers the opportunity to learn new skills and pursue other careers.  

Connected technologies have similarly changed the lives of people as they did a few generations ago. The way we live, work, and interact with our world has progressively modified as technologies have been integrated into all our lives. While we may be unaware of this, the number of connected devices surrounding us continually increase at an exponential rate. This layer of connected objects has been coined the “Internet of Things” (IoT).

Simply put, the purpose behind IoT is so we can take advantage of the Internet to make previously inanimate objects communicate with us, applications and each other. However, the growing potential of the IoT market and the lack of common protocols show we are yet in the early years of the IoT revolution. The IoT environment should evolve to contain the most desired characteristic – technology that is out of the way. The future of IoT will see platforms that will run seamlessly in the background, enable myriads of devices to effectively communicate with each other, and provide consumers effortless benefits. For example, air bags are an extremely sensitive technology that we all heavily rely on – they must, without exceptions, work when we need them. Yet, it is a technology taken for granted and what is more, that is exactly how we expect it should be. Technology that has reached a point in which it can be taken for granted allows humans to excel at other specialised tasks and pursue new subject areas, in the same way farm automation enabled my grandfather to study medicine instead of working on the family farm.

The IoT Revolution

With the current rate that technology is advancing, IoT will create staggering possibilities for society in the near and distant future. In fact, IHS forecasts the IoT market will grow from an installed base of 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 30.7 billion in 2020 and 75.4 billion in 2025. However, let’s focus on how our daily connected lifestyles are being presently powered by IoT.

A growing subset of IoT is location tracking devices. These devices create a way to virtually keep track of things by “digitising” items, transferring the task of remembering where items are located to our technology. Smartwatches are another example of devices that enable effortless organisation. We are today able to wear a fully functioning smartphone on our wrists to make phone calls, schedule appointments, read the news, you name it—we can even talk to it and it will respond back to us. Moreover, there are new connected home devices that can manage the temperature of our homes and help conserve energy by making sure we have turned off the lights when we are away.

Among the variety of IoT technology available today, the common thread found across these devices and apps is that they allow us to free up mind power to focus on more important things than where we left our car keys or if we forgot to turn off the lights in the living room before we left the house. In a similar way to how we no longer have to memorise our phonebook as we now depend on our phones to remember phone numbers for us, new IoT technology is giving humans the ability to do more, and do it better, rather than waste our time concerning ourselves over petty things. It’s the friend that always has your back, alerting you when you’ve left your wallet at a restaurant or when your dog has run off outside the park. Most importantly, it provides us with peace of mind to go about our day knowing we are in control of our lives.

Christian Johan Smith is the president and co-founder of TrackR, a Santa Barbara startup that specializes in tracking platforms. He tweets at @christian1johan

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