At the start of every new year, futurologists inform us of what the next 12 months might have in store. For 2017, there is widespread speculation that the Internet of Things will continue to reshape our lives and homes in profound and lasting ways.
If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with the Internet of Things (also known simply as the IoT) the concept is generally used to talk about the networking of objects. Increasingly, sensors are being embedded in physical objects of all kinds from refrigerators to running shoes to pacemakers. These objects are then linked through wireless networks to the Internet. When objects are networked, however, their potential changes. When you network a pair of shoes, for example, data can flow from the shoes to a computer for analysis. In turn, a shoemaker can start producing shoes not simply in your size but shoes that are made-to-order to better respond to your specific way of walking or running. The bottom line is that when objects can both sense what is happening in an environment and communicate this information back to us and to other objects, they are no longer simply innate objects but rather responsive tools that can be used in new and potentially revolutionary—and scary— ways.