The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a space within the global technology ecosystem that continues to produce some of the world’s most innovative devices. And it’s beginning to impact markets at all levels.
First, let’s take a look at what IoT actually means.
In its most simple sense, the internet is a network on which vast amounts of information is stored.
Through this network, data can be shared between smart devices like mobile phones, laptops and tablets and people can view, share, benefit and control the data stored on the internet.
The Internet of Things is essentially the same network, except that it includes devices that aren’t traditionally considered ‘smart’. Think ovens, fridges, watches and even shipment containers.
By including connected tech in any such ‘dumb’ item, it brings that item to life, allowing it to create and send data related to its function, and gives its user the ability to monitor, control and configure the device from anywhere.
To find out about what’s new in the emerging IoT technology space, I reached out to Eitan Bienstock, the founder of Everything IoT, an Australia-based organisation that offers support to IoT enthusiasts in the form of advice, running events, and facilitating workshops to foster growth and continued innovation in this space.
While there are a multitude of ways IoT devices are being used, Bienstock and I chatted about three of its uses that have been attracting a lot of attention.
When asked to share some of the most interesting uses of IoT he had seen over the last year, Bienstock said that the innovative progress in smart tracking applications across a wide range of verticals had been exciting to watch.
“Smart tracking applications are one of the best use cases that we’ve been seeing in IoT,” Bienstock told The Pulse.
“The variety of implementations include tracking prisoners on vacations, tracking shipments on the supply chain and tracking livestock in farms.”
In essence, IoT is bringing about a future where just about anything can be monitored remotely in real time.
Another popular use of IoT technology has become the ability to make payments via wearables. More and more people are opting to leave their wallets at home and prefer to use a wearable device to make payments.
However, according to Bienstock, with biometric identification technology becoming increasingly popular, this trend for integrating payments into dedicated IoT devices is merely “a short-term fad” and will eventually “give way to facial recognition technology”.
Whether it’s Amazon Alexa or Google Home, one of the most useful applications of IoT today has been its integration into voice recognition technology. Bienstock said that when it comes to IoT and voice recognition, the best is yet to come.
“As expected, the industrial use of IoT is leading the way in implementations since it is easy to show a compelling ROI,” said Bienstock.
“However, I believe that as voice-based recognition home control devices continue to become mainstream, we will finally start to see massive growth in smart home applications.”
Data is a very powerful asset to anyone who owns it, and as seen during the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal, one of the largest risks associated with technology today is the vulnerability it creates for personal and confidential data.
As someone with great insight into the challenges of IoT development, Bienstock told The Pulse that potential breach of data is just as much of a risk for IoT as it is with all other technologies.
“The main hindrance in IoT development is the risk of privacy and security breaches.
“The more things get connected, the greater the risk for the user’s confidential data to be accessed by hackers, leading to significant security challenges.”
One of the ways to mitigate the risk of potential data breaches in IoT, is through the use of blockchain technology.
While many people who hear the term ‘blockchain’ straight away associate it with cryptocurrency and fintech (and often throw it into the ‘too hard to understand’ basket), there are in fact many other applications to this emerging technology, including its successful use in the realm of IoT.
Given that the blockchain is essentially a decentralised database that allows for data to be stored in a transparent and secure fashion, many IoT developers have turned to blockchain technology as a secure way to store and control the data gathered from devices.
No matter where you look, everyday objects are gaining the ability to send and receive data as IoT goes mainstream, and this is creating more opportunities for business owners to leverage.