October 8, 2021
In another episode of Break I.T. Down, the ScanSource podcast for techies and non-tech listeners alike, hosts Ian, Kyle, and Phillip unraveled a topic that is a timely as it is prolific: the Internet of Things. Commonly shortened to just “IoT,” the Internet of Things encompasses more than you may realize – and brings with it a host of quirks and vulnerabilities to know about. As usual, the team starts with the basics and helps walk listeners through in a way that they can truly relate to their own lives.
“The term ‘Internet of Things’ has been around since the late 90s and these days is probably misused as often is it’s used properly,” says Kyle. “The key with IoT in the true sense as that this is a collection of devices that can transfer data over a network without human intervention.” This means that in a network with interconnected devices – from your smartphone to your smart home security camera to even your Instant Pot – can communicate with one another. “It’s also important to differentiate between something that is internet-connected versus internet-enabled.”
While the hosts are careful to establish that IoT doesn’t just encompass every single device that is connected to the internet, they focus more on internet-enabled devices as the core of what IoT is. This is also where the team “geeks out” on the various IoT devices that they themselves use in their own lives – after all, the very first so-called “IoT device” in the 90s was – wait for it – a humble household toaster. We’re not kidding.
“A true IoT device nowadays would be something like a gas meter on the side of your house collecting data and transmitting it to the gas company, and that’s where IoT is going these days,” says Kyle. “Connected home devices today are driven by consumer expectations. These are the same sentiments that drive our purchases of ‘certain proper-noun devices’ in our home that are listening right now and we’re not saying their names on this podcast because they’ll start talking back to us.” In case you missed it, that was your Alexa reference. This also includes sensor-driven thermostats like Nest, doorbell cameras like Ring, and even lightbulbs can be 2020-era IoT devices that are collecting our data every day. The hosts also emphasize the often murky overlap of IoT and AI – two similar things that can operate together, but aren’t exactly the same.
“With the IoT world, you have devices creating so much data, but it only has value if someone (or something) is there to consume and interpret it,” says Phillip. Looking around their homes, the hosts determine that IoT has even more of a presence in their lives than they might have initially known. “You probably have more things than you realize listening to you and processing data you’re providing than you realize. There’s a real-world application both within and outside your home for the data being generated by these devices.”
On the topic of if IoT is still a “future” tech item or something fully present in our lives now, the answer is clear: IoT is going to drive more commoditization of our data and information, and the implicit exchange of incredible convenience is a compelling reason for why this technology is going to continue to reign in our daily lives. “We’re not actively going out and purchasing devices simply because they’re IoT,” says Kyle. “This is both a consumer sale for all of us for pure convenience but also a value-add sale in certain markets where these solutions automate and enable better productivity, lower costs, and improved safety.”
This fascinating topic is creating drastic impact in the way we live, providing quality data for making informed decisions in our daily lives and our business processes – ensuring the need for a future second installment on this exciting and relevant technology.
To listen to the full episode about IoT, click on over to the full 20-minute episode and learn all about IoT in less time than a lunch break.