The Internet of Things promises to help us manage and control the things around us to a degree we couldn’t imagine just a few years ago. By just improving the control over our environment, by intelligent heating and cooling, at home, at work and in the car, can save a significant amount on our energy bill. The ability to track energy use on almost a device-by-device basis and use energy when it is least expensive is another potential for significant savings. Controlling things seems to be a compelling application for the Internet of Things.
Some intelligent systems are even going to allow us to create control ‘bots’ that can manage the details of the IoT devices around us. The example of the alarm clock that also turns on the coffee pot and the heater in the kitchen is perhaps overused, but illustrates the promise of connected devices with an intelligent ‘bot’ that learns from our routines and automates much of the low level selection and configuration needed to get the most out of the IoT.
We may need to be a bit cautious about how quickly we integrate these types of ‘bots’ into our every day life, however. What if the ‘bot’ has access to our refrigerator, treadmill and our bathroom scale? It might even have access to our New Years resolution to lose weight. Might it then decide we don’t need to access the refrigerator after 7PM at night because we will bust our calorie budget for the day?
I know this sounds like the start of a bad horror movie, and clearly any real life system will have an override (hopefully not one you need to get a password from your doctor or insurance company to use). It just seems to me that the Internet of Things, which is supposed to help us control our environment, could end up controlling us much more than we expect. The Internet of Controlling Things could then have a much different meaning. In fact, we could even end up being not only controlled, but the Things themselves. Let’s try and avoid that.
Warren Miller is a contributing author at Mouser Electronics with over 30 years of experience in the electronics industry. He has had roles in product planning, applications, marketing and management for large established companies as well as startups. Currently he is President of Wavefront Marketing, a consultancy serving semiconductor, tools and intellectual property companies.
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