What is the Internet of Things?

You might have heard a lot of buzz about “The Internet of Things” lately – but what is it? The O2 Gurus find out how this mysteriously-named phenomenon will change our lives.

What is the Internet of Things? 

The idea behind the Internet of Things is to get every appliance you own connected to the internet. This will let them share data, work together and make life easier for you – not least because you’ll be able to control everything around the home using your smartphone. Basically, it will make our homes feel like we’re living in an episode of The Jetsons.

What’s with the strange name?

British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton coined the phrase in a 2009 article entitled “That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing” and it stuck. Other names for it include the Smart Home, the Connected Home and the verging-on-ridiculous Cloud of Things.

What “things” does it include? 

Pretty much everything! You can already buy fridges that run Android and can tell you what you need to stock up on by sending you an alert. The Nest smart smart thermostat knows when you leave work, turning the heating up automatically so the house is warm ready for when you get home. Everything from your garage door to your bath will one day be smart. And yes, there’s even a smart toilet out there already.

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What’s good about it?

All these smart devices will use the data they collect about you to automate more and more of your life – which frees you up to spend more time doing the things you love. It’s also good for the environment, with smart energy meters and thermostats making energy use more efficient. In the future it could be possible to set your entire home to power saving mode when you leave for a holiday by simply tapping a button your smartphone.

But what about my privacy?

By its very nature, the Internet of Things will mean that a lot of very personal data about your life is shared between devices online – that means that there’s a chance it will fall into the wrong hands. There has already been one case of an Android-based fridge sending out spam emails. The best advice is to buy products from companies you trust, create strong passwords and make sure you’re using a different password for each service.

What could the Internet of Things look like in the future?

It won’t just be our homes that are smart, we could soon be living in integrated smart cities. In fact the first one is already being built in South Korea. Named Songdo, the new city has all its information systems integrated over wireless networks allowing citizens to directly access services such as health records from their smartphones. It even has an automated rubbish collection system connected to everyone’s homes through a system of underground pipes.

The Internet of Things sounds amazing, when can I get it?

The good news is, you probably already have it! If you have a smart TV, games console, wireless audio or wearable device you’re already plugged into the Internet of Things. By making everyday objects smart, we’re enabling them to interact with their environments and help us learn more about ours. It won’t be long until the dumbest things in our home are, sadly, us!  

Are you excited about the Internet of Things? Do you want a sentient fridge? Let us know on our Twitter @O2 or leave a comment below. 

You can also find us on O2 Guru TV or visit an O2 Guru in store.