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The Pros and Cons of the Internet of Things

Image a time when you are grocery shopping and your home computers contact you to let you know that your milk is about to expire, your yogurt has expired, you are about to run out of sugar, and you are completely out of your favorite juice. This is not science fiction. This is just one example of the capabilities of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Basically, the Internet of Things is tagging real everyday objects with machine-readable identification tags. These tags may also have sensors to collect even more data about the status of these everyday objects and their surroundings.

Another popular example is that printers could detect their low ink levels, contact their owners, and maybe even purchase a replacement with their owners’ consent. Companies will never run out of inventory or stock of any item, if they choose. Tracking and monitoring almost any resource could save companies and people a lot of time and money. And that is the ultimate reason that IoT will have a major impact in the very near future. But first, people need to better understand the advantages and disadvantages of the Internet of Things.

The Advantages of IoT
  1. Information: In my opinion, it is obvious that having more information helps making better decisions. Whether it is mundane decisions as needing to know what to buy at the grocery store or if your company has enough widgets and supplies, knowledge is power and more knowledge is better.
  2. Monitor: The second most obvious advantage of IoT is monitoring. Knowing the exact quantity of supplies or the air quality in your home, can further provide more information that could not have previously been collected easily. For instance, knowing that you are low on milk or printer ink could save you another trip to the store in the near future. Furthermore, monitoring the expiration of products can and will improve safety.
  3. Time: As hinted in the previous examples, the amount of time saved because of IoT could be quite large. And in today’s modern life, we all could use more time.
  4. Money: In my opinion, the biggest advantage of IoT is saving money. If the price of the tagging and monitoring equipment is less than the amount of money saved, then the Internet of Things will be very widely adopted.
The Disadvantages of IoT
  1. Compatibility: Currently, there is no international standard of compatibility for the tagging and monitoring equipment. I believe this disadvantage is the most easy to overcome. The manufacturing companies of these equipment just need to agree to a standard, such as Bluetooth, USB, etc. This is nothing new or innovative needed.
  2. Complexity: As with all complex systems, there are more opportunities of failure. With the Internet of Things, failures could sky rocket. For instance, let’s say that both you and your spouse each get a message saying that your milk has expired, and both of you stop at a store on your way home, and you both purchase milk. As a result, you and your spouse have purchased twice the amount that you both need. Or maybe a bug in the software ends up automatically ordering a new ink cartridge for your printer each and every hour for a few days, or at least after each power failure, when you only need a single replacement.
  3. Privacy/Security: With all of this IoT data being transmitted, the risk of losing privacy increases. For instance, how well encrypted will the data be kept and transmitted with? Do you want your neighbors or employers to know what medications that you are taking or your financial situation?
  4. Safety: Imagine if a notorious hacker changes your prescription. Or if a store automatically ships you an equivalent product that you are allergic to, or a flavor that you do not like, or a product that is already expired. As a result, safety is ultimately in the hands of the consumer to verify any and all automation.
While the Internet of Things has several major disadvantages, the main key advantage is that IoT will ultimately save consumers and companies a lot of time and money. As a result, IoT is almost guaranteed to become much more common in the years to come. We just have to aware of the disadvantages and keep an eye out for issues.

by Phil for Humanity
on 03/12/2014

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