“Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own.” – The Borg
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is a hot topic these days. The cost of building connectivity (i.e., Internet) and sensors into devices (i.e., things) has dropped precipitously. Consequently, applications that once seemed like fodder for science fiction plots are now both possible and commercially viable. The cost of storing the data collected by all of those devices has also dropped. Moreover, advances in big data and deep learning technologies are making it possible to analyse the data for insights, and then take timely actions driven by those insights. In many cases actions are carried out by the devices themselves. There are applications for IoT in just about any industry. IoT devices can be anything from smart watches to power line poles, and, of course, the mobile phones that nearly everyone now carries around.
A world where every device is connected, collects and exchanges information, and then takes collective action based on that information, seems a little Borgish to me. The thought of every aspect of my life, from my pulse rate, to how fast I drive, to how many glasses of wine I have with dinner, raises some serious privacy concerns. But while some folks might find ways to create IoT applications designed for nefarious purposes, there are tremendous opportunities to do a great deal of good with IoT. An IoT-enabled smart home might say to itself, “It’s cold outside. Nobody is in the house. The garage door is open. Close it.” Or, to give a more high-stakes example, an IoT health care application could make the following judgement, “64-year-old-males who, like John, smoke, are overweight and have John’s current blood pressure are highly likely to suffer a stroke in the near future. Alert John, his wife and his doctor.”
A Fairly Good and Short IoT Book
Sudha Jamthe, who does some teaching at Stanford and MIT, wrote a book about IoT, entitled “IoT Disruptions 2020.” At about 100 pages, the book is a quick read. Jamthe does a nice job of defining IoT and reviewing some typical IoT applications in areas like digital health and smart supermarkets. She also gives a nice overview of the emerging jobs market in IoT.
One problem with the book is that it is not particularly well-written from a stylistic, and often grammatical, perspective. Here is an example from the book:
Is the health conscious customer doing targeted shopping, a deliberate list based shopping with a focus or is the customer doing binge shopping is driven by emotions?
Although it’s not particularly difficult to figure out what the author meant to say in the preceding example, I often had to reread sentences or slow down to ensure that I was following along. It would have saved me time if Jamthe had hired a better editor, or perhaps any editor, to review the book prior to publishing.
Despite the weird language issues, my final take on IoT Disruptions 2020 is that it is a good jumping off point to learn about IoT. The brevity of the book is an advantage since you won’t have to invest a great deal of time. And when you’re done, you’ll at least be able to talk about IoT, some of its applications, and where the industry and job market are headed.