Even if you haven’t heard the phrase “Internet of Things”, you have seen the effects of it—or you will very soon. Daniel Burrus of Burrus Research claims that “of all the technology trends that are taking place right now, perhaps the biggest one is the Internet of Things; it’s the one that’s going to give us the most disruption as well as the most opportunity over the next five years”.  

So what is the Internet of Things? In simplest terms, the Internet of Things is a network of objects that can send and receive information. These objects can be anything from devices to vehicles to buildings to roads. You might have seen the Internet of Things in action with devices like the Nest Thermostat or the FitBit. These devices use sensors to collect data, and then share that information with your smartphone. You can communicate back to the devices using that same smartphone. Easy peasy.

Obviously, these are small-scale examples. The Internet of Things isn’t limited to wearable devices and smart homes, however. The reason Burrus thinks the IoT will be so huge is because it can be implemented into almost anything. Research and tests are being done right now to add sensors to things like bridges and roads. These sensors would, ideally, be able to communicate directly to your vehicle and warn you about things like unstable bridge conditions, icy roads, or heavy traffic.

The uses for the IoT is endless, and with that kind of massive opportunity for invention, design, and development, who knows where we are headed? The future is certainly looking like something out of science fiction.  

Stayed tuned for the next installment of this series where I discuss smart cities.