The Internet of Things (which is commonly abbreviated to ‘IoT’) might sound like a scary and confusing term at first glance, but it’s something we’re all familiar with in our everyday life. It’s changing the way we live, work and play, becoming a key part of the modern workplace. In fact, IoT can help us at almost every step of our working day from when we wake up, to when we go to sleep.
On a broad level, the Internet of Things (IoT) covers everything connected to the internet. This can be made up of simple sensors on household appliances to mobiles to smart home devices and so on. However, the term is increasingly being used to define objects that “talk” to one another over a network. From this, it’s possible to collect
data, analyze it and formulate an action.
However, before we look at the different ways IoT is shaping the modern workplace, we need to know exactly what it entails. Put simply, the Internet of Things is a network of devices that are connected to the internet via the embedment of electronics, software, actuators and sensors. This enables them to collect and exchange data, resulting in increased efficiency. Vehicles and electronic appliances are just some examples of devices that can belong to IoT, with a great example being Amazon’s Alexa.
Operated by voice command, Alexa’s internet connectivity enables ‘her’ to increase your efficiency in a number of ways, such as setting alarms and reminders, providing news updates, and streaming radio stations and audiobooks.
The IoT has a huge impact on our daily lives. From the possibility to control your home heating system, window blinds, virtually any appliance in your home, your vehicle, and
many more, it makes our life much easier.
Here are some of the ways that the Internet of Things affects every part of the working day in a modern workplace (and outside of it, too).
You start the day being awoken by an alarm set by the Alexa function of your Amazon Echo. While you get ready for the commute to work, Alexa also helps you decide what to wear by checking the weather, and giving you traffic updates. This is vital to ensure you give yourself enough time for the journey in!
You’re now ready to leave for the office. With the weather being dry and the traffic being manageable, you decide to rent an electric scooter or bike for the day. With companies such as Bird, Lime, Spin and Scoot gaining traction, you can download an app to locate a scooter, enter your card details, and scan a barcode to unlock the scooter.
To ensure everyone can quickly grab their first (and much needed) caffeine fix of the day, your office’s coffee machine is already brewing, thanks to the fact that you’ve already instructed it to do so through an app on your cell phone. In 2016, Nespresso unveiled their own connected coffee machine that uses Bluetooth connectivity to automatically warn you when the water levels and capsule stock are low, as well as when the machine needs a good descaling.
Your smartwatch beeps, alerting you that you need to leave the office for a meeting with an important client. As the meeting is in a part of the city you’re unfamiliar with, you use your cell phone’s Uber app to arrange a ride. Uber uses an integrated network to enable ‘ride sharing’, which enables you to split your journey’s fair with other people travelling in the same direction.
You arrive back from your meeting, and it’s time for lunch. You decide to fit in a quick workout, putting on your smartwatch in order to set a timer for your run, as well as track important metrics to help you see your progress. This includes your heartrate, speed and distance travelled.
To help your office conserve energy, it’s connected to a system that allows you to program the room’s heating and air conditioning without actually needing to be in that room. You notice that the office is getting too warm, so you use an app on your tablet to turn the aircon up to a higher setting.
You access your organization’s CRM system to review data on your customer base. Salesforce enables you to connect your IOT device data to give you better insight on how to better reach your customers, and it also has a built-in AI which uses your data to make intelligence predictions.
Time to leave the office and head home! As it’s cold outside, you decide to throw on your smart jacket from the Jacquard collaboration from Levi’s and Google. This is connected to your cell phone, ensuring you don’t miss any incoming calls during your commute. Joshua Lewis from dorks delivered adds "once you are approaching your house your gates will know that it is you from your key fob, thus letting you into your property."
After the tiring ride home you are feeling thirsty and you refresh with a nice cold cup of water. You are living in what is known as a smart city where your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly water consumption is monitored. Unfortunately because 6:30pm is when lots of people arrive home from work this is peak time and you are charged at a higher rate than usual.
You have finished dinner and its time to take the bins out. With the IoT even our bins will be smart. Aodhan from Taylor Wells adds that bin sensors and truck trackers will not only make life easier as the public will know where the truck is, but will also help the environment as bins will only be collected when they are full.
Having asked Alexa to set you an alarm for work in the morning, you stream an audiobook to help you fall asleep. Before drifting off, you also set-up the Sleep ++ app that you just downloaded onto your Apple Watch. Using its heart rate and motion sensors, it will track how restful and restless your night’s sleep was.
Additionally the IoT market is not just impacting our lives, it is also impacting technology development in fields outside of its own. Tasmin Lockwood, a Tech Writer for Radial Path states that "brands are creating easy-to-use battery optimizing analytical tools for IoT products. - This is interesting because battery development has stagnated and that, along with the mass roll out of 5G, will hinder mass adoption of IoT." Therefore it is becoming clear that due to the demands of IoT, technologies are improving. In turn they are sure to impact everyday life on an even greater scale.
However, as Howard Williams the director of Parker Software warns that "an often overlooked IoT impact is the formidable security risk it introduces. We are prepared for office security however at home we think about it far less. For example, a smart home is easier to hack. IoT gadgets present a weak link. If someone accesses our Wi-Fi, or compromises a single IoT device, we risk losing control of the whole connected system. Or, if there’s a fault, you could find yourself with an essential service suddenly out-of-action. (Think a malfunctioning door lock or unresponsive alarm system.) This is not to mention the privacy concerns surrounding IoT d evices.
IoT is undeniably impacting our lives in terms of convenience and efficiency. But there is a darker impact that we often neglect to consider. The underbelly of IoT represents a risk, and you should safeguard against it with the same security measures you would take in the workplace."
Although to many this is a rather scary concept, the IoT has a real ability to help us. There is currently a lot of support for emergency and health services. According to John Kendall, the Global Director of the Unisys Border and National Security Program states that "81% of Aussies support an emergency button on their smartphones or watches to send their location to police if help is needed and 75% support medical devices such as blood sugar sensors or pacemakers that immediately transmit significant changes to their doctor".
The future of the IoT is one that is exciting and daunting. Either way it is undeniable that the IoT is going to impact our lives significantly over the next few years.