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What exactly is “The Internet of Things?”

“The Internet of Things”, or “IoT” refers to the evolution in technology where an increasing amount of devices which we never thought possible in our day-to-day lives can now connect to the internet to provide services which save us time, money and make our lives more convenient.

Some examples may include the ability to turn on your heating by the touch of a button on your phone or the ability to install security cameras on your property and check up on your home or business by checking your phone or laptop.
How exactly do IoT Devices Work?
There are three main parts which make up an IoT device:
  • A way for it to connect to your internet service (such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth)
  • Sensors on the device which trigger an action (like motion sensors for lights or door locks)
  • Online cloud services which collect and analyze data so you can see what’s going on and take action with your mobile device.
You may be wondering what “cloud services” means. A cloud service refers to a company or organization who hosts a service, software, or resource which your device can connect to via the internet to take advantage of what they provide without your computer doing any of the work.
What are some examples of IoT Devices?
Okay so now you know roughly how they work, but let’s see some of them. Here are three examples of such technologies:

  • Energy: There are thermostat technologies which can be scheduled to turn your temperature higher or lower based on whether you’re there or not. They can even be based on off-peak energy cost hours. This can help to save money on energy bills since you’re probably not leaving your home or work heating on as high when you’re not around!
  • Security: IoT security devices can let you connect to your home or business security cameras to monitor your home or business from your phone or even send messages from your phone to your security speakers.

  • Health: You can wear patches and devices which monitor your temperature, heart rate and even detect falls. These devices can help provide health providers with additional information about your physical wellness, alert you with reminders to take medication or even the ability to contact emergency services in case of falls or other mishaps.
What are the pros and cons of having IoT devices?
Like with anything in life there are pros and cons to IoT technology, here are some things to consider when weighing the benefits and risks:

  • Time Saving and Convenience: You may be able to pre-heat your oven on your way home with a touch of your phone or perhaps help you find your car keys that you could have sworn you left on the kitchen counter. You’re able to track your health and fitness as well, providing you or your health provider with more information to better take care of yourself.
  • Money Saving: You can save money with energy saving devices like motion sensor home lighting or smart thermostats which turn down the heat while you’re out of the house or start to heat your house around the time you typically are back from a work day.  Devices can also be set to turn on or off based on off-peak hours for utilities.
  • Potential Security Risks: The same thing which makes this technology possible also makes it vulnerable to potential risk: The internet connection and cloud services. Just like any online service (like email, Facebook, or others) there is always a risk that it might be hacked. It’s always good to do research into how the product you’re looking at handles security.
  • Technological Complexity:  What happens if there’s a bug in the software? Or the server that handles your heating IoT device goes down? Make sure to check out the track record of the product you’re thinking about integrating into your home, research how it handles issues and what are the fail safes.

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