As “Back to the Future Day" passes, it is both fun and intriguing to examine the state of technology around us, and see just how accurate Back to the Future II was at predicting the future of technology. Back in 1985, Marty McFly had to time travel to October 21, 2015 in order to save his son from becoming a criminal, what technology did he find that really exists today?
Hoverboards (have you checked this out?)
Virtual Reality Glasses (wearable tech!)
Since the movie directors were making technological predictions 30 years into the future-from a place where the most advanced technology was IBM PCs and mere rumors of Apple Macintosh- many of their predictions were spot on. The overarching technology that they nailed was the interaction of the advanced technology they predicted, now known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
As Back to the Future II predicted, the 2000s have been a breeding ground for faster, more interconnected, more cutting edge technology. Most family homes have three or more -mostly flat screen- televisions, and the ability to video chat amongst themselves from wherever they are using computers, tablets, or mobile devices. These same people are also employees who are working from different offices, cities, and even continents but are still collaborating together in real time to get work done by interacting with other people and devices to share information. So, what is the state of IoT today and why is it important to harness?
Understanding the Network of “Things”
The Internet of Things is best understood as the interconnection of people and devices, it is a network of their numerous interactions. “Things” is an umbrella term that encompasses all of the actors in a connected network. Think of these actors as devices (or machines) and people who all work most efficiently when they are connected with other "things". The different relationships in this network are people to people, people to devices, and devices to devices. The connection of all these relationships, however, is the internet: the internet is the medium that allows data to be transferred between people and the devices they depend on.
Why take advantage of IoT?
IoT has erupted as a way for employees-and consumers- to share information quicker than ever, as well as given them the ability to take action with that data immediately. Leveraging this connection has the potential to help all companies manage their connected devices- and the employees using them-from one single platform. By connecting workers with smart devices, company leaders will also create a medium to gather information analytics about internal processes as well as actionable data about consumers. Creating effective, scalable methods of understanding the data shared between people and devices will be an important and necessary step in leveraging the connection between IoT and the big data chain.
Think about it this way: data from all kinds of devices is shared every second of everyday: all different kinds of data will be collected by the machines that we use, but using the data to improve a business depends on proper analysis. Larry Dignan of ZDnet once noted this need, and why it increases when the IoT is leveraged: “Machines do analytics; humans do analysis. Computers are good at detail and examining the past, but real data science requires imagination and cognitive ability”.
The Future of IoT
IoT will only become more influential with time and the number of connected devices. Multiple industry leaders expect there to be over 50 billion connected devices by 2020, and much of this enormous growth will be due to the connection of common consumer devices that have not yet seen a connection to the internet, but have the capacity and likelihood to do so very soon. Think of these newly connected devices as machines or devices consumers use everyday in their homes and personal lives: such as appliances, electronics, and especially automobiles. Soon many of these unconnected devices will be connected in real time, at all times, the way smartphones, tablets, and laptops already are today.
The people who utilize these new connections to the internet all have unique tastes and technological fluencies, and data gathered from their usage will reveal more about their wants and needs. Leveraging the growing connection of more devices and more people will make smart devices smarter, businesses more insightful, and consumers more agile.