The tech world has been talking the Internet of Things for years but as this year's Computer Electronics Show proved, it's finally really here.
We've seen more and more companies creating products that link things like cars, thermostats and household appliances to the Internet via wireless connectivity chips.
For example, there's Nest, the smart thermostat that learns what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you're gone, and is remotely controllable through Wi-Fi. There's also a company called SmartThings that lets you control stuff in your house like your lights, fans, heaters all through your smartphone.
Here's the evolution of the IoT, according to Andrew Rose at Wired:
- Stage 1: More and more "dumb" objects are capable of joining the Internet but require you to manually connect them, perhaps through a QR code.
- Stage 2: IoT products are inherently connected to the Internet and are built to sense things like the environment, location, and devices nearby. They require your consent to take action.
- Stage 3: "Things" can operate completely on their own.
Rose sums up the evolution of the IoT using the example of a smart refrigerator.
In Stage 1, "the refrigerator owner scans cartons of milk with his smartphone, which triggers a reminder when the milk expires," Rose writes. In stage 2, "The refrigerator detects the milk on its own" and then sends a reminder when it expires and in Stage 3, the refrigerator knows when the milk expires and orders more "entirely on its own."
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