Harri — who is doing an invigorating job running our @FSecure_IoT twitter account — points out that we haven’t done any posts about what’s so exciting about the emerging Internet of Things. Guilty as charged.
There’s a reason that the IoT promises to be a $7.1 trillion market in just the next 5 years: People love the way technology makes our lives easier and frees us up to focus on other things.
Given our security and privacy focus at F-Secure, we tend to fixate on the challenges of securing the IoT. Seeing how mobile device manufacturers have both picked up and ignored many of the lessons that the PC industry learned the hard way makes us hopeful that this next rapid expansion of the internet can happen with concern for the protection consumer data in mind.
But we also want to focus on what’s so promising about these developments and how they can and will make lives better — and even save them.
Here are just five key IoT benefits to start with:
- The Internet of Things can save the elderly’s lives.
In the UK alone, as many 30,000 die each year due to cold homes. Most of the victims are senior citizens. The IoT makes monitoring for dangerous dips in the temperature and alerting care professionals or family members simple. “This concept has already been successfully piloted in a trial involving Humberside Fire and Rescue, KC, Intamac and Sprue Aegis (Fireangel), the leading safety sensor manufacturer,” writes BetaNews‘ Sam Pudwell. “The pilot ran through the coldest period of the 2014/2015 winter, ensured the safety and wellbeing of a group of elderly and vulnerable householders by measuring the air temperature and other key indicators within their homes.”
- The IoT empowers the sharing economy.
“Imagine the friction if, for example, Zipcar required that someone meet each customer in order to hand over the keys,” writes Ross Rubin at GigaOm. “Even traditional car rental companies are moving toward streamlining rentals. Similarly, the bike-sharing programs run in many cities such as Barcelona, London and New York City rely on terminals or apps to allow unattended check-outs and returns. Breather also relies on remote locks for the properties it lists.” With reliable infrastructure and secure systems, millions if not billions more people will be able to benefit from additional forms of income generation.
- Connected devices can make our homes more secure.
This seems to be the angle of the IoT Google is most excited about. “In January, Google announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire Nest Labs, a maker of connected smart home devices, such as smoke detectors and other home sensors, and last week there were rumours the company was eyeing off connected home security camera maker, Dropcam,” writes ZdNet‘s Leon Spencer.
- Smart devices can save you money, time and grief.
Giving your alarm clock the power to adjust your other devices to your wakeup time sounds like a slight thing, but simple efficiencies can result in huge advantages, beyond improving your mornings. One recent study found the misuse of time costs “$135 billion a year” in the U.S. alone.
- Improving the shopping experience and retailers’ bottom line with smarter data.
A new survey of 138 retailers by Retail Systems Research finds that 80% of respondents expect the IoT to both “drastically change” the retail business and have a “dramatic effect on consumer products” in the next three years. The number one area they see it improving their business is “Customer service and support”. The ability to understand customer behaviors and fulfill their needs ranks high on the list of challenges retailers expect the IoT to help with. Since the internet is everywhere you can soon expect your real-life shopping experiences to begin to resemble online shopping.
So there’s some good news. What IoT benefits are you most excited about?
[Image by jimnista | Flickr]