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The Internet of Things – Part I
Sudeepto Roy | Klish Way

You were introduced in a past Tech Series article to 5G as the new generation of cellular technology. 5G service commenced in April with initial launches in the US and Korea, heralding multi-gigabit speeds, faster response times, and the ability to connect a massive number of devices other than phones. Referred to as the Internet of Things or simply, IOT, these devices interact with humans and other machines. By some estimates, today’s 15 billion IOT devices (connected via wires, Bluetooth, WiFi and 2G-4G cellular service) will grow by more than fifty-fold, to a trillion by 2035, with 5G playing a central role in that exponential growth. At its heart, an IOT device consists of three big components: sensors that measure the environment, battery-efficient computing to process the sensed data, and a reliable connection to the internet. Other essentials are smart software and services, coupled with the ability to keep device access and data secure. Our lawmakers are taking note: California Senate Bill 327 will require manufacturers of connected devices to support “reasonable security features,” including changing default factory installed username/password, before use.

In our three-part series, we will explore three categories of IOT: (a) devices we interact with in our personal lives, (b) devices that reside in the spaces we live, travel and work in (such as smart homes, buildings, and cars), and (c) devices that are part of the public infrastructure we rely on, for productivity and safety (such as smart cities, roadways, agriculture, etc.). We begin with the first category: the role of IOT in our personal space.

Personal space IOT comprises seven further sub-categories, including, devices for 1. communication (e.g. smart watches, mapping devices, and voice-assisted speakers), 2. entertainment (e.g. mobile gaming, and media boxes), 3. care for loved ones, including children, elderly, and pets (e.g. baby monitors, pet trackers, and elderly fall trackers), 4. safety (e.g. panic alarms), 5. identification and finance (e.g. fingerprint authenticators, contactless payments), and two massive categories, 6. fitness (step counters, body-worn personal trainers), and
7. wellbeing (such as Bluetooth tooth brushes, heart-rate monitors, augmented eye-wear, sleep monitors, continuous insulin or pain medication dispensers, etc.).

The significance of IOT cannot be overstated: These devices are co-evolving, keeping us safe, connected, and productive. However, concerns abound about increasing complexity, cost, installation, maintenance, and compatibility headaches, erosion of privacy, increased security risks, rapid obsolescence, environmental impact, disruption to established livelihoods, and ever-increasing social distance. As we adapt to the unfolding wonders of IOT, we need to consciously strengthen the human bonds that tie us together: for instance, pick up the phone to say Thank You, Mom on May 12 (and Dad on June 16); They are not, after all, the Internet of Parents.

 

 

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