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Life, the universe, and the Internet of Things


The Internet of Things is about to become universal very soon. CompTIA predicts over 50 billion Internet of Things devices by 2020—i.e., several IoT devices per human. Sea changes come with many unexpected consequences. For example, Tim Berners-Lee probably did not anticipate his influence on cat adoptions.  But here are some of the ways we do know that IoT will change the world as we know it.

Small decisions, big data: Imagine being able to leverage big data insights on the humblest device. Not just when designing it, but for every usage decision for the lifetime of that device. Everything—starting from the user experience to the features of a device to how updates are implemented—will change. Imagine more universal devices like smartphones, but being used to control every aspect of your life. We’re already halfway there with apps like WeChat, as explained in the video below. And that’s not even the beginning.

Understanding patterns and social movements: When everything’s connected and trading data, patterns become more apparent. Millions of small devices making demands, running search queries—this becomes a way for IoT health devices to predict fast-moving illnesses, for financial services apps to predict stock market changes, and facilitates everything from life-saving medical measures to delivering the freshest memes.

Customizing life services: IoT examples in the popular consciousness take the form of entertainment devices like Alexa or other non-essential luxury products. However, the next wave of IoT will involve essential life services. Those with assisted living needs, the elderly, the sick, or everybody, really, will have constant access to knowledge bases and remote support that can turn into real-time, physical help when necessary. Imagine your grandmother having always-on devices in her home that monitor her well-being.

Fostering innovation: When everything’s connected, it’s a smarter world. Collective intelligence doesn’t grow in a linear fashion. Smart devices can link to smart devices, brought together by advancements in big data and artificial intelligence. Innovations stack upon other innovations, and technological growth becomes exponential. A world where everything is connected, and everything is intelligent—that’s where IoT is heading.

Public good: Ultimately, IoT’s biggest transformative power lies in what it can do for the greater good. Think beyond consumer products and think of all of the ways that cheap, robust, smart, connected devices can help the disenfranchised. Bringing healthcare diagnosis and monitoring to out-of-reach or poverty-stricken locations. Helping everyone access hitherto unobtainable educational tools. Creating new pathways for us to help each other and contribute to the good of humanity—that is IoT’s ultimate goal.

Arafat Kazi

Things I love: tech convergence, the singularity, cats.

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