You’ve probably heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) and how it’s set to completely transform the world. Some may view thguestis as an exaggerated take, but there’s little question that companies across the globe are taking an intense interest in it. The central concept of the IoT features tiny sensors and other machines that are all connected to the internet, allowing them to communicate with people as well as each other. Some experts are predicting that by the year 2020, there could be as many as 20 to 30 million items that are part of the Internet of Things. While there is a lot of hype surrounding the IoT, what’s often lost in the discussion is how the individual will contribute to and be affected by it. In fact, as more focus is placed on people, it’s becoming clear that wearable technology will play a big role in driving the Internet of Things, turning the whole idea into the Internet of You.
While there’s certainly excitement surrounding the IoT, there’s also a lot of anticipation for the rise of wearable technology. The latest hype is coming from Apple, where the Apple Watch was recently announced and has the potential to take wearable tech mainstream. The effect wearable technology will have on the IoT is still mostly speculative at this point, but there’s little doubt that potentially having dozens of sensors on your person at all times can transform the IoT into a more personal experience. In essence, the Internet of You turns you, the individual, into the focal point of a large network. No longer is the IoT considered a vast network of devices; instead, it’s a network designed to serve you and make your life easier. The devices and sensors manufactured for this new Internet of You react to your presence, actions, and commands. The Internet of You provides a whole new layer of convenience never before thought possible by having whole systems focused on you.
We’ve already seen some early developments of this concept. Many cities around the world are currently trying to turn themselves into smart cities. Through connected sensors, cities are able to work more efficiently, detecting problems and figuring out solutions, such as better traffic flow. Where the Internet of You theoretically comes in is this information can be communicated directly to you through your wearable devices. You can instantly be alerted to traffic problems and prescribed an alternate route, or be told where to find the least congested shopping centers, or be directed to the safest path home after dark based off of adequate lighting. Some of these ideas are already being put to use through existing technology, but the Internet of Things can make it more personal, accurate, and efficient with wearable tech.
The Internet of You can also be used to improve your health. Wearable tech can monitor your vital signs at all moments, measuring your blood pressure, heart rate, and other factors and send that medical information to healthcare providers. In this manner, wearable technology can alert you to any warning signs it’s detecting in your health. Medical professionals can also communicate with you in case of an emergency. Some companies are already developing this technology. Google has developed smart contact lenses which measure glucose levels for diabetic patients. These wearable tech devices are designed to serve you, and by improving your health, the true value of the Internet of You can be seen.
As with most developing technologies, there are a number of obstacles that still need to be overcome for wearable tech to truly impact the IoT. For now, wearable tech is still seen as a niche market nowhere close to competing with smartphones. Many analysts are hoping the Apple Watch will change that trend and introduce more social appeal for wearable devices. Battery life also needs to be addressed, since some wearable devices like Google Glass run out of power after only a few hours. Other technologies need to be adopted that can handle increased data generation and storage. While flash storage may do the trick, many within the industry are still debating over the widespread adoption of flash storage vs. hard drive technology. And most importantly, with so much data being collected, companies will need to ensure that data is secure and each consumer’s privacy is protected.
Despite these obstacles, it’s an exciting time to watch the Internet of Things take off in conjunction with wearable tech. As businesses get a better grasp on the technology for each, they’ll likely find a way to make you the focus of their efforts. Eventually, the Internet of Things will become the Internet of You, leading to a more convenient and connected life.