My friend’s father passed away a few years ago in California. He lived alone. Early in the morning on the day he died of a heart attack, he pressed the little red transmitter button on the small medical alert device he wore as a pendent around his neck 24/7. He knew that as soon as he pressed the little red button, its transmitter would send a signal to the speaker box that was connected to his phone which would automatically dial the Central Monitoring Emergency Station. Yes, help would be on its way. The problem was the phone lines were down. The call never went through. He died silently and alone. The Internet of Things (IoT) would have changed all that.
Today, he would have been connected to the local hospital by a 24/7 wireless web-linked heart monitor using powerful algorithms. It would have predicted months ahead of time that he was heading for trouble. Or his daughter could have monitored his heart while living far away in Sweden and know if he was having an arrhythmia. He might still be alive. That’s why you should be very happy that the Internet of Things is getting bigger and better everyday.
What IoT is and how it impacts our lives
Basically, IoT is literally everything and anything where everyday objects such as goods, furniture, machines, appliances, buildings, vehicles, animals, people, plants, and soil have network connectivity which allows them to send and receive data using sensors, transmitters and radio frequency technology among other systems.
An easy-to-understand technical explanation from Whatis.techtarget.com says IoT objects must be fitted with a unique identifier and have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
It all might sound a little scary and futuristic, but it is neither. I know that anything new usually brings with it an unnerving reaction. However, I have found that that this technology has already impacted my daily life without even knowing it and I am happy with this change.
In my community, all transit traffic is controlled by wireless communications, monitors and sensors, in essence, IoT technology is working here already. While waiting for the bus to come, I can look up at the electronic sign at the bus stop and see exactly when the bus will arrive. So, if it is late, I can choose another form of transit if I wish. I can text my client from my smartphone and let them know I am delayed. I can relax and not worry about what’s going on.
As I already mentioned, the local transit transport system has adapted IoT technologies. But the new air conditioner/heater inverter appliance I purchased for my summer cottage is another example. This inverter has an intelligent eco sensor that saves energy by adjusting to changes in human movement, activity levels, absence and sunlight intensity. This optimizes the air conditioner/heater according to room conditions. It benefits both the environment and your power bill. But it can also be controlled. Using a handheld transmitter connected to a sensor and the app in my smart phone, I can turn it on and warm up the place an hour before I get there so I can walk into a warm cottage in freezing conditions. I save money, time, the environment and peace of mind. Can’t get better than that!
But I want more. I would like to see my municipality save money, energy and citizens’ frustrations by adapting wireless RF outdoor lighting with control networking technology such as the system they use in Olso, Norway. When a street lamp goes off in our neighborhood, it could takes weeks before it is changed. The local council relies on its inhabitants to report any unlit streetlight or lamp by calling the proper authority. However, there would be no need for this if they adapted IoT technology. Less calls and administration leads to lower taxes and lit pathways for us!
And while I am on the subject of lighting, I went for dinner at my friend’s Alex home the other day. He has always been an early adaptor in all things technical, so I wasn’t surprised when he pulled out his iPad and began adjusting the various specifically placed lights in his home. There were blue ones, red ones, yellow and green. He could make them bright or dim to suit his mood while his music player would react symbiotically. The ambience was affected immediately by the lights and the surreal sound. All this was performed by objects with IoT technology. And it made a huge difference.
So, where will we be in 20 years? We could easily be surrounded and connected by 5000 Internet of Things everyday. My advice: better get used to it.