Well, the first ‘things’ that are appearing right now are things like Amazon’s Echo which is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real time information. It can also control several smart devices, all once you say the magic word, “Alexa”. It’s been out for a while but was hard launched last weekend as one of the many $5m per 30 seconds commercials during Super Bowl 50.
Google’s Nest is more about security, with cameras, alarms and thermostats. Talking of which, Hive, which started out with thermostats is branching out into Smart Plugs, Motion Sensors and Window or Door Sensors.
Then there are smaller home control businesses like Loxone through which you can control your home (heating, lighting, alarm system, multi room audio etc.) all from a web browser or mobile device.
Whether it sounds like heaven or hell depends on your point of view… and on whether or not you’re a hacker or a government agency (or even a divorce lawyer).
The ever-widening array of smart, web-enabled devices is a gift to intelligence officials and law enforcement. Intelligence services usually insist on back doors, and they’ll be able to use the Internet of Things for identification, surveillance, monitoring, location tracking, and targeting for recruitment, or to gain access to networks or user credentials.
In your home, knowing whether you’re out, what you own and where you keep it is invaluable information for thieves. And just think what tales devices like your watch could tell divorce lawyers if the camera in them is capable of being remotely activated.
Moving into the wider world, the plan is that autonomous vehicles will interact with the road network, making your journey smoother and swifter. Traffic and street conditions will be communicated to cars, rerouting them around areas that are congested, snowed-in, or tied up in construction.
However, who’s in charge of the car? Supposing you were an anarchist wanting to disrupt a demonstration? Or a terrorist wanting to cause chaos? Yes, the big computers are pretty well protected, but the smaller ones controlling your car? And, frankly, car thieves might be able to steal your car without even being there. Who knows, we might see a convoy of autonomous luxury cars driving themselves to new owners in Russia and the Emirates. Or Cuba (OK, they’ll need a ship or a plane, but you get my drift).
The point is that the Internet of Things will make lives better. And it’s unstoppable.
Let’s just hope it’s unhackable too.
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