I got a new doorbell the other day. It cost me a hundred bucks. If you are like me, you are thinking, "Dang! That's a lot for a doorbell!”, and you’d be right – it is.
But what this new doorbell does is pretty cool. When someone rings it, it goes through our home's wireless network and, through an app on my phone, tells my phone to ring a bell. I can be anywhere in the world and it works. It pretty neat stuff, but that's not all. As soon as I answer the bell there is video of the person at the door. I can see them in real time, and for added coolness, my visitor and I can talk back and forth. I'm not sure what's going to happen when I tell the stranger at the door that I'm at a meeting in Chicago and then watch them break into the house, but I guess that's not the point (plus my wife tells me there are alternative stories I can give.)
The point is that my doorbell is an example of one of the world’s up-and-coming technological tools... the Internet of Things. For all practical purposes, the Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
Whew! That is quite a definition! My doorbell seems to describe it more simply. Another description lies in the ‘invention’ of the IoT. A couple guys at work in a metro high rise kept going down a few floors for a Coke only to find the machine out of Coke. So, they put a sensor on the machine to show when Coke ran out. As soon as the last Coke was dispensed, the sensor would light a light at their desks. With the subsequent addition of smart phones into the equation… presto! We have the Internet of Things.
Now, such connectivity at home and in the office creates an unending opportunity for using the combination of information and smart phones to simplify our life. With IoT already controlling the temperature in our homes and offices, locking doors, shutting garage doors, etc, it is clear that this technological advancement is here to stay. For me, answering my door from Chicago is just pretty cool.