It seems like just yesterday everyone was excited over flip phones. Now if you don’t have a smart phone you are living in the stone age. Just like the advancement of phone technology, other electronics in your home and life are also advancing. You may have heard of “the internet of things” but may be unsure of what that means. Things are everyday objects such as a refrigerator or a barbie doll that are able to access the internet for various reasons.
If you were a 90’s baby I’m sure you remember the Disney channel movie Smart House. When this movie first came out it seemed like having a house that could control many different aspects within itself was far into the future. But here we are, not even 20 years later and we have homes doing almost exactly that. Objects, such as products created by Nest, aid in producing our current smart homes by being self-learning. While the house itself is not “smart”, all of the gadgets within the home connect on one network and are able to work together to make life easier and more efficient. It is estimated that there will be 30 billion devices by 2020, being only two years away that means almost every household will have more than one device connected.
How it effects life?
Today’s technological advances are seen as bigger than the industrial revolution. The Internet of Things is not just in your home, it is everywhere from your car to retail services to inside your body. In your home, (as previously mentioned) things created by Nest are making life more convenient. Say you forgot to turn off your lights or air conditioner when you went to work; it is as simple as opening your phone and pulling up an app to turn those settings off. Not only is it more convenient, it is also energy efficient and money saving.
In your car, you most likely have Bluetooth that connects with your phone. With this you are able to make hands free calls which is not only easier but much safer as well. Additionally, all of your car’s mechanical parts are beginning to be able to connect, making them work together more efficiently and makes spotting an issue much easier to diagnose. With your car now connecting, it’ll be able to receive real-time updates about road conditions or impeding traffic on your work commute. All of this makes your drive easier and safer.
In an average food store it is fairly common to walk past a shelf with a hot sale item all out. If the store was using shelves connected to a network, it would be able to tell someone as soon as the item was getting low. Consumers would never have to worry about not being able to grab something they are in need of. As our everyday lives begin to pick up pace, so should our surroundings. With this implemented, duties such as tracking of sales, customer experience and many other functions are made effortless.
Medical advancements also play a part in this technology incline. Plenty of people have pace makers now-a-days and more innovative ones connect via Wi-Fi. Things such as your heart rate or blood pressure are able to be easily monitored and adjusted all at your fingertips. Prescription bottles are working towards being able to automatically refill a prescription as soon as your pills start to get low by sending out an alert to a doctor with your assistance. Essentially making tedious tasks less time consuming and improving your overall health functions.
Unlike the movie Smart House where the house takes over on its own, our smart houses are still entirely under our control. With that danger out of the way, there are still many others to face. With so many people constantly in need of their smart phone, what would you do without it? Imagine everything you come in contact with in everyday life is suddenly just not working because it can no longer connect to the network? What would happen without access to even the most simple objects? Everything would be put on hold.
The biggest danger of all that most already worry about daily is being hacked. With more devices or objects connected to a network, there are more opportunities for hackers to break into one of those. Just like we all worry about our phone or computer being hacked, anything connected is also able to be hacked. The case of the spamming refrigerator; since the refrigerator connects with your email and calendar without proper protection anyone can gain access to your email account and send spam messages either to you or from your email address. Many companies are eager to be the first to release a new smart or connected object, they typically are rushed and forget that because it is connected that there are additional safety measures and other risks that need to be considered. Here is a good example of an attack you wouldn’t expect but was extremely possible:
“Security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek forever altered the automobile industry’s notion of “vehicle safety” in July when they demonstrated for WIRED that they could remotely hack a 2014 Jeep Cherokee to disable its transmission and brakes. Their work led Fiat Chrysler to issue an unprecedented recall for 1.4 million vehicles, mailing out USB drives with a patch for the vulnerable infotainment systems and blocking the attack on the Sprint network that connected its cars and trucks.”
Not only can objects that surround us be dangerous, but also the ones implanted into us. Major advancements in the medical field use digital aspects to aid in your health and well-being. Here is another example former president Dick Cheney had faced:
“Students at the University of Alabama showed why Cheney’s cardiologist had cause for concern this year when they hacked the pacemaker implanted in an iStan—a robotic dummy patient used to train medical students—and theoretically killed it. “[W]e could speed the heart rate up; we could slow it down,” Mike Jacobs, director of the university’s simulation program told Motherboard. “If it had a defibrillator, which most do, we could have shocked it repeatedly.”
With those few examples being said, just because it is the latest advancement doesn’t necessarily mean it is the safest. Think hard about the security risks and make sure to do your research before indulging into all these connected devices. Each new object becoming connected leads to a new threat. Thus, leading to new security concerns not only you as an individual but as a society. Even the FBI has sent out a PSA informing everyone of these risks. While flying cars are not yet a reality, we are certainly living in a futuristic world.