Just a few years ago, IoT, or the Internet of Things, was little more than a hot-button topic that wasn’t widely grasped by members of the general public.
But now, through our devices, virtually all of us are participating in IoT in some way.
On the off chance that some of our readers don’t already have a basic understanding of what IoT is, here’s a brief overview:
The Internet of Things is defined as a large network of physical devices which use software and various types of sensors in order to receive and send information over the internet to other systems.
Any device that is part of this network is considered to be an IoT device. Smartphones, of course, remain one of the most popular, if not the most popular, of all IoT devices.
But your smartphone is far from the only IoT device that you might have in your home.
Wearable tech such as fitness trackers and smartwatches have become very popular as well, and they often use a number of different components and sensors to monitor things like heart rate, movement, and even vertical movement such as climbing stairs.
Even certain contemporary cars can be considered IoT devices thanks to their connectivity to data networks.
On the user side, IoT devices are slick, convenient, and offer a huge number of helpful services.
On the manufacturing and design side, IoT devices feed into Big Data, attract a generally young demographic to their line of products, and offer an immense number of possibilities for further development and optimization.
There are indeed concerns surrounding the sheer amount of data that IoT devices can potentially collect from users and the security of that data, which we’ll be getting to, but from a bird’s eye view, IoT devices seem like they’re not only here to stay but that they’ll continue to grow in type and number.
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Eliott Teissonniere of Nodle
To discuss IoT as it stands today, we have enlisted the help of Eliott Teissonniere, a seasoned tech professional and an expert in blockchain and IoT connectivity.
A tech executive since age 17, Teissonniere was quickly set on the fast-track within the realm of blockchain, working as an expert freelancer, helping companies like Nodle greatly expand their blockchain projects.
Teissonniere even created the Nodle Blockchain and became a mentor as part of the Berkeley Blockchain Accelerator.
IoT is of course closely tied to blockchain, and Teissonniere notes that, “Nodle is leading in the category of connectivity providers for IoT devices. We use our knowledge of mesh networking and blockchain-based technologies to provide a more reliable, secure, and cost-efficient solution to connect IoT devices all around the world.”
Teissonniere is a leader in blockchain technologies, and he strongly recognizes the current and future potential of IoT.
More powerful than ever
It’s hard to deny the sheer level of power that IoT devices now have, but it’s also surprisingly easy to forget that it hasn’t been this way for very long.
As with any technology, iteration leads to improvements both subtle and large.
Of course, one of the most heavily iterated IoT device categories out there is smartphones.
Without a doubt one of the most popular and revolutionary tech devices of all time, smartphone manufacturers have been highly motivated to improve and expand the capabilities of these devices.
But there are also many IoT devices that fall under the ‘smarthome label.’ These devices were once perceived as frivolous luxury items but are now becoming more common in more homes.
Greater sales numbers will no doubt continue to incentivize improvements.
Teissonniere understands that these changes make IoT devices more appealing both for customers and for developers.
“IoT devices have been becoming increasingly more power-efficient and powerful. This allows manufacturers to make them more intelligent but also supports more use-cases. It is also becoming easier and more cost-efficient to connect these devices. Some devices can use your home’s WiFi, while other devices can rely on dedicated 4G and soon 5G providers.”
IoT devices are most valuable when they stay connected to the internet or another network, so this consistent connectivity, and the relative affordability of that connectivity, are only good news for those looking to do more with these devices.
For developers and tech leaders, it’s very easy to see just how exciting the potential of IoT really is.
But for the average IoT device user, i.e. the majority of people in contemporary society, the enthusiasm just isn’t on the same level, and that’s probably because these users don’t have a solid understanding of what real-world benefits IoT advances would enable.
These users may think, ‘Well, my phone, my computer, and my camera doorbell system are already very useful to me. I don’t see how they could be that much better.’
Teissonniere comments on how IoT, in combination with other contemporary tech systems, could indeed offer so much more to users than what we’re experiencing right now:
“IoT by itself may not have much impact on the average user, but when it is coupled with other industries such as AI and Big Data, it becomes much more relevant. For instance, IoT devices can leverage these other technologies and industries to guess our upcoming needs, remove friction from our life, and make things more comfortable.”
IoT devices already do a great job of delivering convenience on many different fronts, but these conveniences are rarely personalized.
Think of, for example, meal delivery apps or fitness apps. Yes, in their current states, these apps are indeed much more convenient than pre-smartphone equivalents. However, they’re only personalized to a certain degree.
By utilizing Big Data or Machine Learning (or both), apps like these could, in the not-so-distant future, actually anticipate individual wants and needs in advance, making themselves more valuable to users.
As a peek into what these devices could be doing, Teissonniere referenced some of the wearable tech and ‘smart home’ devices that are only becoming more ubiquitous with time.
Apple AirTags and Eero Routers, the latter of which is now an Amazon product line, are excellent examples of forward-thinking designers pushing into the future by expanding our expectations for these types of devices.
At a certain point, these capabilities could go well beyond convenience and cross over into safety.
Consider for a moment the potential for devices that would monitor critical aspects of an elderly person’s health, a capability that only becomes more important when the person in question happens to live alone.
But exactly how far should this kind of data collection and personalization go, and what happens when that data falls into the wrong hands?
Teissonniere weighs in on the topic:
“With IoT devices becoming smarter and more powerful, they are collecting more data than ever. Sadly, it also turns out that in most cases they are easy to hack into. We have seen issues with many devices. No manufacturer seems to be safe from such attacks.”
Cybersecurity is highly advanced, but threats have been keeping pace quite well. This represents a serious problem for the present and future of IoT.
As we’ve discussed, there are many benefits to connectivity, but that connectivity comes with the possibility of attacks.
This doesn’t mean that IoT advances are not worth pursuing, but it does mean that those advances need to be pursued carefully, with utmost attention paid to security.
IoT + blockchain
There are multiple serious challenges that arise when IoT devices are developed and improved, including the security concerns we just touched on.
But could one type of tech be the solution to the problems inherent to another type? When it comes to IoT and blockchain, it’s certainly possible.
For Teissonniere, the value of this combination is immense and apparent:
“When coupled, it is truly a match made in heaven. When working with IoT use-cases, lots of things have to be re-engineered or fine-tuned in order to adapt to their own limitations. On top of this, IoT devices need to be heavily secured. This is a particular area where blockchain-based technologies excel.”
Blockchain has a very strong relationship with cybersecurity. In fact, some may argue that security and trustworthy authentication are the essence of blockchain technology.
In fact, blockchain’s reliance on a network of many different physical machines is one of its greatest strengths. This makes it very difficult to execute fraud.
When we apply blockchain’s features to IoT, there is just so much room for cooperation and optimization.
If blockchain helped deliver reliable security for IoT devices, it would also improve the general public’s perception of blockchain, moving it away from the overly simplistic understanding that this tech is only used to mine and trade cryptocurrencies.
Both blockchain and IoT are so much more than what they appear to be in the present moment.
It takes forward-thinking minds to help these technologies become all that they can be.
In time, IoT may not only represent a helpful tool in the life of the average person; instead, it may become a crucial part of the things we do every day.