Talking to your fridge: The Internet of Things
It wasn’t long ago that the Internet of Things (IoT) was a term understood by techies only. In the past few years the phrase has found its way into our daily lives more and more, yet to many the very idea of IoT still seems futuristic. In fact, IoT has been around for a while, making a quiet but powerful impact on our day-to-day lives.
So what exactly is the IoT? In a nutshell, the IoT refers to any object that can be connected to the Internet. Smart devices with their own WiFi connections have begun to move into almost all sections of society, refining existing services and creating brand new mechanisms. Many businesses across the world have already started incorporating IoT into the way their company works, and over the next few years IoT will extend its influence further into our homes.
Many of us already have an IoT presence in our home. Smart light bulbs are connected to the internet, allowing you to adapt your home lighting from afar via a smartphone app or specialised controller. Other established IoT products included smart thermostats, which have myriad benefits. Having a smart thermostat means that the heating only comes on once the temperature drops below a pre-designated point; not only does this saves energy, but it also highlights an individual’s energy use patterns and helps houses save money. Smart lighting systems work in the same way, where lights will automatically switch off if no one is in the room.
The energy and money savings are evident, but the IoT also assists in the mundane tasks of everyday life. Smart lighting that helps us wake up in the morning – where lights come on at a certain time to make getting out of bed that bit easier – is already in use. The idea of talking to your fridge seems like something from a bad 1980s sci-fi movie, yet we already have smart fridges that tell you what you need to buy. Similarly, if a smart washing machine packs up, it will remind you to call an engineer to fix it, or even order new parts itself.
The Future of IoT
So what’s the next step for IoT in the home? As IoT technology evolves, the ways in which companies integrate smart products is also evolving: voice recognition is being employed as a control method, meaning that the idea of having a specific app for each IoT product will soon become obsolete.
We have already mastered the ability to create self-learning systems that work alongside our smartphones and pre-programmed information; the next step is devices that don’t rely on complicated configuration or interaction with the user. Instead of a device remembering what we originally programmed, it will work ‘behind the scenes’ and collate the necessary data itself.
One example of this new approach can be seen in sprinkler systems. Several start-up companies have devised new technologies where the sprinkler system will glean information from local weather forecasts to determine whether the lawn needs to be watered, and if so, by how much. As these technologies advance we’ll likely reach a point where all devices are connected to each other as well as to information and services, thus making the experience entirely seamless.
How IoT Will Affect Home Security
How the IoT can be incorporated within the realm of home security is rather a hot topic. While a malfunctioning smart washing machine will result in nothing more dangerous than unwashed clothes, smart security systems are playing with much higher stakes. Early IoT integrated security products were mired with problems: the SimpliSafe home alarm system could be manipulated and disarmed by any tech savvy burglar, bluetooth door locks were forced open and IoT security cameras hacked, thereby allowing any Peeping Tom visual access to your home.
However, it is precisely these issues that prompted security systems to hone their technologies and become more capable. For example, the future of many smart home security devices now involves systems with multiple components, all of which work together via an IoT connection, backup battery, radio controller and siren. The use of individual sensors like motion, window, glass break, water and cameras working together means that even if one sensor fails, the overall security is not compromised.
Verisure Smart Alarm is not connected to anything easily hackable or deactivatable like wifi or home main power supply. Our mobile security terminal works on battery and contains its own sim card with secured connection, communicating with sensors and cameras in a closed network. No wire, no external access, tech-saavy-burglars proof.
The more these risks are smoothed out, the more smart home security will be embraced – and with the demand for smart home devices expected to increase from 83 million last year to 193 million in 2020, it’s clear that smart home security is already hot property. One exciting new security development is iris identification, which brings to life the futuristic idea of scanning your eye to gain access. Though not available to the general market yet, it won’t be long before this Bond-esque device is available to most of us.
In spite of the early hiccups the IoT is already changing the way we view home security. Only a few short years ago the security of our homes could be compromised by power outages and lightning storms, yet smart systems are impervious to these hazards. Many leaders in home security have already launched smart locks and smart burglar alarms, making the safety of your home easier than ever before. Forgot to set the alarm when you left home? No big deal – just set it via your phone. Didn’t lock the garage when you left in rush? No problem – just lock up with one quick click.
The whole idea of the IoT and smart homes is to make our lives easier, more comfortable and safer. In 2017 home security already looks nothing like it used to, and at the current rate of development the near future will bring us even smarter, safer and more user-friendly security.