The Internet of Things and the Workplace
So what exactly is the Internet of Things (IoT)? Basically, it’s all the devices around you that are connected to each other via the Internet. This network is increasingly complex, but offers bigger and bigger real-world rewards, especially in the workplace. Smart devices and their software have the ability to save us money, keep us accountable, entertain us, teach us, and more. This integration between technologies and the internet shows no sign of slowing down, with some estimating that as many as 24 billion IoT devices will be on Earth by 2020. Here’s how some of those devices already impact you today, and how they might impact you tomorrow.
Artificial Intelligence and IoT
The roots of the Internet of Things (IoT) are in Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI refers to computer systems capable of performing tasks that have historically required human intelligence, like translating languages or making decisions. These are computer systems that act like autonomous brains—making decisions based on past events and adapting based on experience. IoT is the strategic use of AI by humans, linking these increasingly complex and adaptable integration technologies to the Internet and allowing ourselves the ability to personalize and refine this connectivity.
The IoT is already part of most people’s lives. An Amazon Echo can order office supplies, furniture, or gifts on command for next-day delivery. Smart devices like Nest and Ecobee, allow you to adjust the thermostat using your mobile phone. Today, it’s now common for Individuals with pacemakers to employ a cardiac transmitter, allowing insight into literally each and every heartbeat. These devices can be programmed to automatically report daily heart statistics and pacemaker performance information while a patient sleeps.
The Future of Integration
All of this is just the beginning. Imagine if your computer integrated with the GPS on your phone to automatically boot up when you get in the parking lot. Your office chair could alert you to bad posture, and give you data to guide your workouts. Your email account might give you feedback about communication by tracking your average response time (and open rate). Employees of Wisconsin-based technology company Three Square Market have embraced implanted microchips used in place of key cards for building access and credit cards for lunch. These chips aren’t yet used to track the location or spending trends of implantees, but it’s a real possibility for the future.
The Internet of Things is only made up of the devices we bring to it. Each one serves a purpose in connecting us to our environment, information, and other people. What is your favorite “smart device” and how has it changed your life? Let us know in the comments.