How the Internet of Things is reimagining some of the most iconic inventions of all time31st March 2015
Technology always seems to be evolving at a staggering pace. Just look at the phones we have in our pockets and compare them to the ones we were using ten or even five years ago. And with each and every technological advance, our expectations get stronger.
For instance, a few years ago we would never have demanded high-speed internet connectivity as a basic function of our mobile phone, but now we've got used to it, we've found that we like it and now consider it essential.
So what innovations lie just around the corner? Well, the next big game changer has already started to be seen. We've heard the term Internet of Things quite a lot recently and this relates to devices that can connect to the internet to both receive and send data. Technology has progressed to the point where even the tiniest of devices can have this capability – and developers are working all the time to devise practical applications of it for both the home and the workplace.
In the near future then, it looks like we could have many more connected devices all working in tandem to make our lives easier. According to industry analyst Gartner, the Internet of Things will have established itself as a mainstream technology within the next five years, with the total number of connected tools hitting 25 billion by 2020. To put this in context, the figure was just 900 million in 2010.
The Internet of Things has already worked its way into many gadgets we can't live without, from smart TVs and smart meters to GPS navigation systems and wireless fitness trackers, as well as the electronic toll collection device many of you may have in your car.
So it's not hard to imagine how the ability to transmit data related to their function could revolutionise countless other devices and daily tasks.
Take lightbulbs, for instance. If they have the ability to react to the environment and respond intelligently, they will anticipate our needs without us ever needing to lift a finger. Or for the drivers amongst us, we could have a screen at home that tells you when you need to service your car or if there is any disruption on a route you regularly take.
Even household features such as furniture and white goods could soon be connected too. How handy could it be to have smart technology embedded in the arm of your sofa, or an oven that tells you when something that's cooking is almost ready?
It's staggering to think just how many possible applications of this there could be in the coming years. By using intelligent devices to monitor key variables in any process or environment, such as the temperature and moisture levels inside food preparation equipment, many of the more mundane and repetitive tasks we've had to perform will no longer have to be done manually.
This means people can devote themselves to more satisfying and rewarding tasks, both at home and at work, and use their talents more productively.
A few years ago we'd never heard of devices like sat navs, but now we rely on them to make intelligent decisions on our behalf. The Internet of Things simply applies the same philosophy to other gadgets, so they can work remotely and intuitively for us every day of our lives.