The Internet of Things: Overhyped or the Next Technology Wave?


Lately, it seems like the tech news space is being overrun with freshly released news about the Internet of Things. Will we soon have to worry about our microwaves and refrigerators conspiring to let hackers access our home networks? Or will Internet connectivity for appliances and furniture finally usher in the Jetsons era in homes today?

Let’s take a closer look at whether or not beds with their own IP address is a good thing or how the IoT benefits you as a consumer.

Is ‘Internet of Things’ Hype at Its Peak?

The technology industry analyst group, Gartner, feels the hype of the Internet of Things is reaching its zenith. Calling the technology out for “inflated expectations,” Gartner notes that there isn’t the kind of standardization with the IoT that’s typically necessary when it comes to wide acceptance of these new consumer products, especially something as far-reaching as Internet connectivity for home appliances and furniture. They expect this lack of standards to hamper the adoption of the IoT for the time being.

When adapted, these IoT standards are expected to cover data formats, wireless protocols, and other associated technologies. Gartner feels the large array of different entities working on these standards is actually delaying the adoption of the IoT, in a scenario that seems something like a 21st Century version of the Tower of Babel. Gartner compares the level of hype surrounding the Internet of Things to other currently hot technologies, like 3D Printing and Wearables. Does anyone remember virtual reality?

Considering that the Internet itself is an important part of daily life for billions, and many standards like HTML and XML are used today in eCommerce and other web-enabled applications, there remains little doubt that you as a consumer can benefit today from the IoT. Still, the technology concept raises the specter of hackers now leveraging a new frontier to disrupt home security or worse.

A New Arena for Hackers to Ply their Trade?

A study released in early 2014 by the cyber security firm, proofpoint, noted that Internet-enabled appliances are now the target of enterprising hackers looking for a new arena for their nefarious activity. Over 100,000 of these kinds of devices were hacked according to proofpoint’s study, with the collateral damage of 750,000 spam messages being the prime result of these hacking incidents. Ultimately, you don’t want to worry whether or not your refrigerator or washer and dryer set are contributing to a hole in your home’s firewall.

As with any cyber security issues, it is important to take the steps ahead of time by keeping any valuable documents or data off of your home network. It is better to keep this information safely on thumb drives or external storage devices. Companies looking to build products for the fledgling IoT space need to make security a prime directive; this will surely be one area that separates the top companies from the also-rans.

Home Automation is Here Today

If you want to explore what the Internet of Things provides your household today, check out the many offerings from the world of Home Automation. It is possible to remotely control a wide range of Internet-connected devices, including lights, thermostats, window shades, security cameras and more, using devices like laptops, smartphones, tablets, and even old-fashioned wall panels. As the standards continue to be developed for Internet-enabled appliances, the companies working on them can look at those firms already in the Home Automation space for inspiration and a head start.

Many of the cyber security issues worried about regarding the IoT are already part of the daily routine of companies involved in Home Automation today. If you already use an HA system at your house, you understand the importance of strong passwords for your wireless router and other connected devices.

Ultimately, there remains little doubt that the Internet of Things will gradually become a bigger part of our daily lives, even if it takes five to ten years to get there. As always, just make sure you prioritize cyber security at your home through the smart use of passwords and by keeping valuable data off of your home network.

Photo Credit: Phil Windley