From the first episode of the Jetson’s to the most recent Star Trek movie, we have always dreamed of smart technology. Even before the internet was created, we wanted household devices like fridges, ovens, doors, and more to talk to us and predict our needs.
As the first bits of the internet of things (IoT) began to trickle in, people were skeptical. Why would we ever need a fridge that can do Twitter, or a toaster that can browse the web? Well, we don’t, but those were the first tentative steps towards the future.
Now, smarthomes and wearables devices are becoming more and more popular and we have to take an honest look at the pros and cons of having more things connected. If you’re thinking about making your home and life more connected, here are some thing to consider.
Pro: Incredibly Convenient
The most attractive trait of a majority of IoT devices is the extra convenience. By connecting with the web, it gives users a new level of control and flexibility. Especially with smart home appliances that do things like lock doors, monitor temperatures, and turn on lights, users can do everything from their phone anywhere in the world.
Other things are designed to make day to day life easier. They can do things like tell you how much food you have in the fridge, when a pot of coffee is made, where you parked your car, or monitor and tell you how many calories you’ve eaten that day.
Con: Increased Vulnerabilities
A massive problem with IoT devices is the general lack of security with them. They are designed to be easy to use and connect seamlessly with your phone, internet and sometimes other devices, but leaves themselves open to attacks. They also have limited defense software like antivirus or firewalls that rarely update.
What’s scary about this is the type of damage a cyber criminal could do. For example, a hacker can take control of your smart devices through and hold them for ransom. If you just have something small like a coffee maker, it’s not too bad, but if you’ve created an entire network of devices, it could become dangerous. They could unlock your doors, raise or lower the temperature in your fridge, or even take complete control of your internet. If a device has personal information on it, they could use that to steal your identity or harass you online. Until all devices have a high level of security and constant updates, this will always be a concern.
Pro: Predicting Your Needs
With major advances in artificial intelligence, it’s possible for electronics to learn what we like and dislike. Alright, Google and Amazon have created AI help bots that can do tons of stuff, all the while learning about us. For example, let’s say that every morning you wake up and ask your Alexa what the weather is going to be for the day. After a while, the bot will recognize your habit and begin providing the information without being asked.
As more devices connect with each other and learn your patterns, they could even work in concert to create seamless experiences. If your habit is to wake up, take a shower and then grab a cup of coffee and read the news, your devices could learn this and prepare everything for you, from pre warming your shower, preparing your coffee and pulling up the news on your phone.
Con: Reliance on Network and Electricity
The IoT relies heavily on one thing. The internet. So if you don’t have internet, especially wifi, then your devices won’t be very effective. They’ll probably still do their base purpose, but you won’t have access to what makes it special.
Sadly, we live in a world where we still lose internet and and nothing can really stop it. Additionally, losing power can have an even worse effect on your devices. So if you heavily rely on smart devices, but then lose internet, or worse, power, then you’re in trouble.
Pro: More Control In Workplaces
IoT devices give people a lot more awareness, knowledge and control in their lives. This control can be invaluable to certain people, and very useful in workplaces. Things like smart fridges could allow chefs and restaurants owners to monitor their ingredients and allow a safe and secure place to do things like defrost meats overnight.
Business owners often crave control to be sure everything in their business is working right, and smart devices could go a long way to helping. Additionally, businesses could find ways to measure and control productivity with internet connected devices. Manufacturing machines could better measure their normal wear and tear and even order new parts for itself, or smart cameras could monitor traffic flows in a store and identify potential problem areas.
Con: Bugs and Cheap Products
Technology doesn’t always work. Things break, short out, get old and slow, or get busted in shipping to your home. Smart devices are included in this. Adding more tech to something also gives it more ways to break and fall apart.
Let’s look at the example of a smart door lock. You’re away on business and want to make sure your house sitter locked the doors, so you open your app and click the lock button. It’s says the doors are secure, but what if there was a bug in the coding and your door actually unlocks. Things can always go wrong with technology, so there will always be that small doubt in your mind.
Overall, the trend of the internet of things is one that can only grow as technology improves. Someday, it might become completely commonplace to have every appliance in the house to be controlled from you smartphone. And that day might be sooner than we expect.