Neptune Navigate Blog

Tips for online safety, security, and responsible digital citizenship for parents, kids, and families.

Internet of Things

May 24, 2021

I can remember when my sister and I purchased our mother the first car phone…also called a bag phone.   It was such a huge deal, and she loved it.   How funny it is to look back on that now and see how far we’ve come and the improvements that have been made in mobile devices.   Now everyone in my family has cell phones, ipads,and laptops.  We have smart tv’s, smart refrigerators, and even devices that  create lists of what I want from the grocery store.  Autonomous vehicles, which are robo-cars, may not be too far off in our future.   I sometimes feel as though we aren’t too far from living like that old cartoon, The Jetsons.  (And some of you will have to Google what that is.) 

I’m not complaining, by any means.  I love my fitness tracker, and “Alexa” has become quite a helper to  me.  All of these devices, plus a myriad of others, are all part of the Internet of Things, IoT.  Surprisingly, this isn’t a new term. It was coined back in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, a computer scientist for Procter & Gamble.  Since then, the number of connected devices at our disposal has grown exponentially.

It isn’t just in homes anymore.  IoT technology is used just about everywhere you turn around.  Even as you sit at a red light, IoT technology is being used to direct traffic flow and monitor vehicles.  Hospitals make use of it in thermal scans. Cities employ IoT for just about everything.  The point is, IoT technology has become such an integral part of our everyday lives, we aren’t even aware of it anymore.  The World Economic Forum issued a report that  predicts by the year 2025, “41.6 billion devices will be capturing data on how we live, work, move through our cities and operate and maintain the machines on which depend.” 

I think what troubles me about that statement is the word, depend.  Because I admit, I have many connected devices that I depend on daily.  Not that I COULDN”T live without them, but I really wouldn’t WANT to.  They do make my life easier.  I also realize that this isn’t the end of the road for IoT.  It’s only going to improve and expand. 

One problem area that many people already experience with all of these connected devices is cybersecurity.  Hackers and scammers are already prolific at invading our personal information.  Should we be concerned that as IoT increases, so do the opportunities for the criminals?  I certainly don’t want to become another victim, but I’m not quite sure I want to give up the devices that I’ve grown so dependent upon. 

As software improves and more devices are developed and connected, our future truly could look something like the  Jetson’s utopia.  Let’s just hope we’re ready for it.