The Internet of Things: The Future is Already in the Present

June 10, 2017 – Today we hear from Jim Burch, a guest blogger who has already written for this site in the past. Born and raised near St. Louis, Missouri, Jim is a devoted baseball and St. Louis Cardinals’ fan. (Sorry Jim I follow the Dodgers in the National League and the Bluejays in the American.) He studied creative writing and journalism while working as an editor for the Murray State News in southern Kentucky. Today he lives in Chandler, Arizona and writes about health, fitness, movies, television and consumer technology. In this posting, he describes how the Internet of Things (IoT) is changing our world in the present and near future. As always comments on this and other postings are welcome. Thanks for dropping by.


IoT describes the communication among multiple physical devices, embedded in vehicles, buildings and equipment. These devices contain software and sensors that can exchange data over networks. IoT is in many of the tech toys that run our homes and lives. From high-tech thermostats and wireless cameras to voice-activated artificial intelligence, IoT, once a futuristic concept, is now very much a part of our present.

Wireless Technology

Think back to just 10 years ago, right before the first iPhone. Our home technology was contained to a cable box plugged into a wall outlet, a phone plugged into a landline jack, and a home security system wired to a dedicated security network. All of that is almost completely gone in 2017.

For example, take security camera systems. You can still pay a monthly fee for a legacy service to monitor your home, but many opt out of subscriptions for a one-time purchase of a wireless security system. With cameras available from Lorex Technology homeowners can record to a DVR with the images accessible by smartphone or tablet.

Lighting

Lights haven’t changed much in the last 50 years. Our bulb choices may burn longer and use less energy, but we still flick the same manual switches as our parents and grandparents before us. We have dimmer switches for mood lighting but even those are managed manually. And when our day is done we go around turning out the lights.

Today all that can happen automatically. Light systems like Philips Hue are connected to a hub using a Wi-Fi network so that every bulb can be controlled through a smartphone interface. You can dim the lights, change their color, and assign settings all through your phone. And you are not limited to bulbs. Light fixtures, desk lamps, and even LED strips can be connected to the hub and can be controlled by phone. You still have the old switches, but you won’t need to use them unless you can’t find your phone.

Automation

Like the lights and manual switches that controlled them in the last century, many of our other home systems required us to intervene by hand. If you left the house on a cool morning and it turned into a hot day, too bad. Your house when you got home would be roasting.

The Nest and other smart thermostats have changed all that. They learn your daily habits. They track your comings and goings. They are connected through your local Wi-Fi hub to your H/VAC units that provide heating and cooling. When you are out your smart thermostats left on their own can control temperatures in your home. Or if you choose you can use a smartphone app to control your H/VAC remotely. Any way you use them, these automated IoT devices save money by reducing your energy use.

Voice Command

In the last two years, this has become a game changer. Voice command hubs like Amazon Echo,  Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod do everything from playing your favorite music to ordering products, to reminding us of appointments, and keeping us up-to-date on the latest news of interest. And all of this is controlled by your voice.

Voice command interfaces are the stuff of science fiction or so we thought. Our imagination about the voice-controlled home, or a voice-controlled spaceship such as in the series Star Trek, suggested a technology that would be ours sometime in distant future. But no, it’s here now. Through IoT today we are living in that Star Trek future, whether it is using your voice to command your security system, lights, thermostats, or to recall favorite music, the daily calendar, and the latest information and news. All of these Wi-Fi interconnected smart systems are accessible by voice creating lives in our home that can be managed hands-free.

 

 

 


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...

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