The Hype of the Internet of Things | TechWell

The Hype of the Internet of Things

As an IT professional, do you feel that you are forever falling further behind the technology curve? Just when you think technology has matured enough to be enterprise ready, it seems we enter yet another silly season of pie-in-the-sky, half-baked ideas. My cracked and cloudy crystal ball says the Internet of Things is quickly ramping up to be the next big hype pipe dream.

As the Internet has expanded, cloud computing has spread, and end-device technology has matured, it is now possible to gather vast amounts of data and process it in ways that have not been previously possible. This capability has been driven by access to cheap miniature devices—thank you, smartphone technology—and the widespread availability of wireless networks. 

The Internet of Things is based on the concept that we can add intelligence to arrays of sensors and machines by adding network connectivity and miniaturized computing power. This information can then be used in unimagined new ways.

One way to think of the Internet of Things is that it is a shinier, more comprehensive version of the Internet, itself—dare I say, Internet 2.0. It is already being used to tap into millions of home utility meters to help deliver energy more efficiently and to provide real-time traffic information based on GPS information shared by millions of travelers. 

Since this is a relatively new concept, the Internet of Things has led to some wild products as people experiment. Internet-connected smart refrigerators are out there, as is talk about Smart Dust: micro sensors that can be used to gather information about everything. Biofeedback fitness devices are enjoying some success as novelties, Google Glass has its geek fans, and home-monitoring devices have become a popular way to spy on children, housekeepers, and pets. 
This does not mean that the Internet of Things is just about new consumer-oriented products such as Fitbits and Nest thermostats. The true pioneers are the package-delivery companies. They automated the logistics supply chain years ago, spearheaded by an estimated billion dollar investment in hand-held devices and back office package-tracking systems. However, until the widespread availability of reliable wireless networks, there was no possibility of tracking millions of packages in real time. 

As always, there is a kernel of truth buried under all the hype. On the surface, the Internet of Things does seem to be the logical next step for taking advantage of the capabilities of millions of connected devices. But, first, we need to figure out how to use these new capabilities without sacrificing our privacy and security

So the next time someone mentions the Internet of Things, take a deep breath and bite your tongue. The Internet of Things will deliver real value soon enough.

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