On: 25th April 2016

Although it sounds like a 10-year-old made the term up, the Internet of Things (IoT) is no joke. In our previous post we discussed the effects of wearable technology on recruitment. It’s a topic that got us thinking about how devices are fuelling the ever-flourishing development of the IoT. In its simplest form, IoT is the idea that everyday objects from toothbrushes to cars will eventually have the ability to send & receive data to make everything in our lives ‘smart’. TechRadar sums it up nicely:

“You wake up in the morning and the fitness tracker on your wrist has recorded how well you slept, uploading the results to your Twitter account. Your coffee machine reads your Twitter feed and knowing you’re awake, begins brewing your first coffee of the day.”

The interconnectivity of technology doesn’t seem like the distant future anymore and while there’s nothing I love more than a hot cup of coffee waiting for me when I wake up, there are some drawbacks of IoT.

Connectivity Issues

Preston Gralla over at Computer World breaks down just how hard it would be if your router, the hub of the interconnected devices, broke. Connecting devices to a new router is hard at the best of times (we’ve all experienced the pain of trying to connect a rubbish wireless printer), but the situation is a whole lot worse in the age of IoT where your washing machine depends on the internet. The issue deepens when you consider the amount of people who will be unable to fix even minor connectivity issues even in the tech-savvy world. IoT could just lead to digital fatigue. Do we really need our toothbrushes connected so we can get data about our brushing habits? Perhaps not but it might save us a lot of money at the dentist…

Privacy & Security Issues

What if someone steals our precious toothbrush data?! On a more serious note IoT just as a concept has a very dystopic, Big Brother feel to it. When you consider the chance of hackers taking control of your car when you’re driving it feels a bit like the I, Robot film. We’re not sure if we’re being dramatic or not because there is a chance that a scenario like that might happen. In fact, last year HP released a study claiming that 70% of IoT devices are vulnerable to attackers. That’s not to say that the security of devices won’t improve but even if they do stop hackers it’s not always them you need to worry about. Samsung and LG have already been accused of collecting too much personal information via their smart TVs.

Are the drawbacks relative?

IoT has benefits that go beyond connectivity issues and data theft; for example saving lives. If there is a hazard on the road and your car had sensors to communicate the potential dangers in advance then road accidents could be prevented. If a fire broke out in a busy building then firefighters could use technology to identify the number and location of civilians. If wearable devices can spot signs of an early heart attack it can notify a local ambulance. These things are often overlooked in the novelty saturated IoT market. We’re not saying the FitBit doesn’t have a place in the market, but it’s a superficial start to the larger benefits of IoT.

IoT is not going anywhere anytime soon, particularly because big businesses are investing in it. Google for example are building an IoT Campus whilst the government has started a £10m fund for start-ups and why wouldn’t they? Getting data from you helps them make better decisions. An I, Robot world might not be that far away, but for now it’s just going to be people tweeting their oral hygiene data.