Two years ago, we told you the Internet of Things could be the next tech trend to make you rich. But if you missed that article and still don’t understand what the Internet of Things is all about, it’s time you learned.
Consider this: By some calculations, the massive amount of data we now collect is equivalent to creating 150 million new books every second. Ninety percent of the world’s current data was created in the past two years.
It’s mind-boggling. And where is this boatload of data coming from? A lot of it is coming from the Internet of Things.
Fridges, thermostats and dog collars go online
When the Internet began, it was about connecting people to each other so they could share information. The Internet of Things is about connecting inanimate objects to the Web so they can share critical information.
One day, nearly everything will be connected to the Internet. The process is already well underway.
Here are some previously “dumb” devices now made “smart” by the Internet of Things:
- Refrigerators that tell you when the milk is gone
- Garage door sensors that alert you when the door is opened or closed
- Thermostats you can adjust with your smartphone
- Dog collars that tell you if Fido is exercising enough
From our cars to our checkbooks, more and more of the things around us are plugged in and online.
But we’re still in the infancy of the revolution. Estimates today suggest 10 billion to 20 billion devices are now connected to the Internet. In five years, that number could swell to 50 billion, according to a new report by AIG and the Consumer Technology Association:
Autonomous objects can constantly acquire, analyze, and transmit reams of data captured from their surroundings. In turn, economies, cities, businesses, and people will respond to this flow of information — opening an unprecedented array of opportunities.
All this information is about making us more productive and our lives easier. But it also means we’re creating enormous amounts of data. The critical questions are:
- What is happening to this data?
- What are the risks associated with collecting the troves of information?
Corporate America, how are you going to handle my information?
The Internet of Things offers tremendous opportunity to businesses. All that data is a potential goldmine of information that can be used to improve products and services, market goods and reduce costs.
No one knows that better than the insurance industry. The industry’s entire business model is based upon pulling data, analyzing it and making the best guess on what happens next:
- Will you crash your car?
- Will your house go up in flames?
- Will you develop some chronic health condition?
Because of the insurance industry’s long history of dealing with data, I tend to be fairly comfortable with the notion insurers aren’t going to misuse my information.
When my auto insurance company wanted to send me a gadget to plug into my car to monitor my driving habits and potentially give me a discount, I had no problem saying yes. I trusted the company wasn’t going to announce to the world I sometimes brake too hard, or send a notice to my health insurer to let it know my premiums should be raised based on the average speed of my car.
However, I’m not so sure about companies in other industries — the ones that are new to the big data game. When their latest and greatest Internet of Things gadget hits the market, are they going to know what to do with the data they collect? Will they keep it private and secure?
Here’s a place to start
AIG’s report — a 27-page white paper — is an effort to encapsulate the IoT revolution. It covers the history of the Internet of Things, how new technology is being used in each industry, and the potential problems of privacy, cybersecurity and liability.
It’s the perfect place to learn more about how this tech revolution could affect you in the future. And if you work for a business interested in hopping on the Internet of Things bandwagon, it’s a must-read.
If 27 pages is too much for you, you can get a 30-second overview by looking at this infographic.
Happy reading, and let us know what you think in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
This article is the product of a partnership between Money Talks News and member companies of American International Group Inc. Although this post is sponsored, the information and opinions expressed in the article constitute only my own beliefs.