By Matias Zorrilla Yep

Look around. The world is undergoing a smart revolution. With the success of the smart phone, the natural progression of human ingenuity has been to create smart homes and smart cars. But where does that lead us? To many, the future lies in a smart world, one connected by the Internet of Things (IoT).

The IoT is a giant network which connects any device to the Internet. This connection not only fosters interpersonal interaction, but also enables communication between people and machines as well as between machines and other machines. The key to the IoT lies in sensors embedded in physical objects, which churn out and uplink live data to cloud networks. Information is then sent to and processed by central computers, which analyze the information. In this way, objects are able to provide continuous data on the environment and interface, examining and understanding complexities and providing a means to respond them.   

Just imagine coffee machines collaborating with alarm clocks, brewing a cup of coffee as the snooze button is hit. While a convenient application of the IoT, this is only the brink of its capabilities. The IoT is also a gateway for doing social good, like improving safety measures and minimizing energy consumption. For example, sensors in buildings may be able to detect structural health imbalances, relaying any points of weakness to owners and identifying the problem at its earliest stages. On a larger scale, sensors tracking air pollution levels may be able to regulate carbon dioxide emissions from factories and pollution emitted from cars. More than practicality, the Internet of Things provides the opportunity for a more conscientious and efficient world.

The IoT is the future, but there should be caution in accepting it blindly. The IoT has its Achilles heel, with the main issue pertaining to privacy and security. In a society of growing data breaches, as exemplified by Equifax and the SEC, entrusting the cloud with the proper protection of one’s livelihood is a great risk. Since devices are connected to the Internet of Things, small devices in a home may be hacked or breached and exploited, giving hackers access to the web of connected personal devices and machines. Security concerns are a legitimate hindrance for the progression of the IoT; however, security measures will only continue to grow as more technologies are implemented, and as the IoT is further understood.