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IoT? What In The World Is That?

If you haven't heard of it yet, get ready because it is already starting to show up everywhere.

Published: 04/21/2017 by Richard Visokey

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What in the world is IoT?

If you haven't heard of it yet, get ready because it is already starting to showing up everywhere. IoT stands for the "Internet of Things". More simply you can think of it as a "connected device" or a "smart device".

The goal behind IoT is the connection of physical things together over a network for monitoring and controlling. The ultimate in remote control. We are all aware of smart TV's and home security cameras that make up the majority of current IoT devices but how about toasters, dishwashers, doorbells, lights, lawn sprinklers, and even doggy doors. And those are just household items. Engineers are quickly placing IoT connected devices in just about every imaginable product. According to Wikipedia there will be more than 50 billion connected IoT devices by 2020. That's a lot of remote control!

IoT hopes to make everything connected. Your IoT toaster will know when your IoT coffee pot is starting to brew and start toasting at exactly the right time so both finish together in perfection. You'll then get in your car which, as it leaves your house in the morning will report to your IoT garage door opener to close and IoT alarm system to arm itself. The possibilities are endless and the benefits are incredible. While IoT promises to bring in a new era of connectivity and consumer convenience to all of us it also has come with problems and a few are of great concern.

The big concern is security. When IoT was first developed little was thought about security. You had your porchlight connected to the internet and with a simple webpage you could turn your light on and off. Not very dangerous if someone else found how to control it. But what happens when IoT falls into the wrong hands? Recently a "smart" commercial dishwasher was discovered to have a major software flaw. Hackers were able to access the dishwasher and shut it down remotely. Image every restaurant owning this dishwasher no longer being able to wash dishes. Image if it was your air conditioner or furnace. As consumers we need to be extremely insistent that the companies who produce IoT devices keep them safe and hold them accountable for keeping them safe.

Every day I see more and more standard items become re-invented as IoT devices. A few days ago I saw a toilet that reported to a web app the total number of flushes. I'm still struggling with the usefulness of that information! So when you go to buy your next toothbrush and it states it is connected… you know it is an IoT device.


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