What is the Internet of Things?
Very simply stated, it is a system whereby everyday objects communicate with and control other objects over networks without any attention or intervention from humans, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This system is based on machine-to-machine communication, cloud computing, and a network of data-gathering sensors.
So how does this technology work in the home and how will it benefit you?
Here is an example:
For decades, we have had programmable thermostats.
You would set the thermostat for a certain temperature and the sensor in the device detected the temperature of the room and turned the heating/air conditioning system on or off accordingly.
In more advanced models, you could also program the thermostat to adjust the temperature based on the time of day.
If you went away for the weekend and forgot to reprogram the thermostat, your system could be blasting away, wasting energy and money.This system only involved machine-to-machine communication i.e., the thermostat talking to the heat/air-conditioning unit, and it relied on a human to tell it what to do.
After about a week of use, it will learn what temperature you like and when you like it and will create a schedule based on yours. After that, you don’t have to touch it.
It has several features that make it truly “smart”.
It gradually learns about your house—how long it takes to heat up or cool down, and how drafty it is. It tracks the weather so it can automatically adjust to keep you comfortable or save energy. If the thermostat’s sensors determine that you have left the house, it will adjust to save energy.
So far we’ve only covered your home’s thermostat. Here are some more “things” to add to your Internet of Things. Your heating system could be a source of CO leaks or it could spread smoke through your home in a fire. If there’s a CO leak, another device can tell your thermostat to turn off the heat. If it detects smoke, it will have your thermostat turn off the fan so that it won’t spread the smoke. Connect your thermostat to a smart lock and, when you unlock your door, it will immediately start warming or cooling the house.
You can communicate with smart appliances like your refrigerator, oven, washer, dryer and vacuum cleaner using simple conversational texting from your smartphone. Check on the contents of the fridge from the grocery store. Get recipes from the oven. Remotely start a load of laundry and get notified when it is done. Command your robot vacuum to clean your living room and kitchen floors whether you’re in the backyard or a thousand miles away.
Does this all sound too far out? Well, maybe it is for most people at this stage, but so was the idea of a home computer back in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. Give it time, and we could all be living like this sooner than we think!