Five years ago, if you took a poll and asked the typical American consumer to define the Internet-of-Things (IoT), I’d be willing to bet that 90% of the population would have no idea what you were talking about. Today, while they might not immediately recognize the “Internet-of-Things” or other industry buzzwords, they could at least tell you about the increased connectivity that exists between different devices in their lives. As the IoT continues to grow, I can only assume that we will all become more comfortable with this new connected paradigm, so much so that we won’t think twice about the family car proactively reaching out to us with a reminder to get gas on the ride home, and maybe even pointing out the service station with lowest price available today on your way home.
Take Google Glass for instance. The entire premise of Google Glass is to introduce people to an idea, to consider what life would be like if you could easily access all of your important information and live in an “augmented” reality at all times. Google Glass aims to make daily activities easier, while also introducing society to an always on, connected lifestyle that leaves no question unanswered. At any point, through what I assume will eventually evolve to resemble a normal pair of glasses (Warby Parker and Luxottica are already on board as partners), wearers can get directions, read email, and surf the web, among other things, all laid out in front of their eyes while still retaining an awareness of the world around them. Yet, the introduction of these wearable products won’t necessarily scream “IoT.” Instead, as the Internet-of-Things grows in consumer adoption, users will simply be introduced to new products and new technologies without realizing, or caring, about what category they fall into. Eventually, it could be commonplace for you to meet a new person and have them already know your name and basic information (think about a LinkedIn integration) through the use of their Google Glass – if everyone has the ability to access this information on the fly, it may not seem like an intrusion. Or will it?
While I certainly think that Internet-of-Things is already adding value to our professional and personal lives, there are implications that need to be considered as we move closer to this connected society. For instance, in a previous post, we discussed the “selling of our souls” through the use of connected devices. Each of these devices is collecting data on your preferences and general lifestyle choices; at what point do we question the security of that information and how it is used? Not to mention, what are the implications of the constant collection of data from every connected person in the world? Large amounts of data and the analysis that accompanies it can often complicate decision making and make useful conclusions difficult to find. The emerging “Big Data” solution providers and business intelligence marketplace thrives off of this challenge.As citizens of a connected society, it is important that we take a step back and ask questions about the consequences of being fully-connected, all day every day. The Internet-of-Things is not a fad that will fade as consumer interest fades - devices are only going to get more and more connected with time. The important question is: how do we make sure that we as consumers are aware of the information that is generated on their behalf every day? Once we have that awareness, how do we make the data work for our benefit and not solely for the benefit of our device manufacturers, service providers, or policy makers?