Every year—and every minute—more devices are going online, connecting our world in ways we never imagined. From our homes to our cars to own city blocks, the Internet of Things (IoT) stands to revolutionize everything about how we’re living. And the best part is, it’s now happening so seamlessly many of us will not even realize it.
Yes, we’re smack in the midst of IoT development. But from where I’m standing, the IoT itself is just starting to evolve and refine its own role in making our world a better place to live. No longer is it enough to be able to remotely control our home air conditioner and other appliances via Nest and other smart home apps. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to process the data it gathers, IoT devices can now automatically sense what temperatures we prefer—when we prefer them—and automatically adjust accordingly. That goes not just for smart homes, but endless other processes in our cities, offices, and the connected supply chain.
Indeed, today’s IoT is finally moving to the next level: beyond technology as a function, to technology as a proactive problem-solver. Below are just a few areas where this precocious technology is going to be making some waves—whether we know it or not.
If there is one place life stands to get a bit easier for many of us—it’s in the home. Case in point—Google Chromecast users: you may have realized that the icon on your phone recently changed from Chromecast to Google Home. That’s because Google and other providers are ready to move beyond simple entertainment and air-conditioning. They want to use the IoT to help you manage your entire lives.
Connected devices in our homes have traditionally been about making life easier—and maybe even a little more fun. It’s cool to check in on our kids from our connected video cameras; it’s nice to click a button on our phone and watch our favorite movie or TV show. But going forward, these technologies will be about even bigger things: saving energy, time, and money. Your smart home apps will automatically manage your energy usage based on smart sensors and data collected over time. Predictive maintenance sensors will alert you—and even arrange for help—when your appliance is in need of adjustment to maintain optimal efficiency. One-click virtual assistants will be able to shop for you based on past grocery purchases and have food delivered straight to your door—without you even thinking about it.
On the business side, savings will be just as huge. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates buildings account for more than 40 percent of electricity use in our country. There’s no telling how much private and public bodies will be able to save in money—and natural resources—by utilizing the IoT.