The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things connects millions of digital devices and gathers information on everything we do. Its purpose is to analyse data on a global level to influence the choices we make at a local level.

Linking technology

The Internet of Things links new and existing technologies but its real benefit is to big businesses, large organisations and governments. Big businesses use it for profit, large organisations for environmental scanning and governments for security and, at times, coercion and control.

It starts at the personal level with the technologies that collect and analyse information about our health and habits. Those with an interest in exercise wear fitness devices to track activity and even the quality and quantity of sleep. They measure calories consumed, steps taken, distances covered and monitor heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure.

The information is used to capture personal details and shared with organisations interested in lives and lifestyles. Such technologies are connected through the Internet as millions of people provide access to their data for reasons of fun and financial reward.

The devices record what we do at every given moment and build a picture of behaviour patterns, which are sold to organisations interested in what we buy. Fashion and sport accessories such as Fitbits and Apple Watches are two of the most recognised personalised technologies as we wear them for fashion and connectivity.

Wearing technology

There are, of course, many advocates of such technologies as people like the idea of living a connected life. Others are more circumspect and question the reasons for sharing data and worry about how it is used to exploit lives.

Young people are often early adopters of technology but the fact that personal information is now the currency of the digital world is significant. Not least, because there is little understanding that sharing information can lead to unintended outcomes as companies use it to offer or avoid offering products and services.

The Internet of Things raises the question of what other than technology is driving such global connectivity; the answer, of course, is the desire of large and profitable businesses to get larger and more profitable. Some governments will also use and, at times, abuse the information they collect to monitor what their citizens are doing.

It is, however, just the beginning of a new era where technology in all its forms tightens its grip on every aspect of our lives. There is no doubt its influence is increasing, as it finds newer and more effective ways to collect the information we willingly and unwillingly provide.

So, the Internet of Things has grown to become a reality in our lives and although we can’t escape its reach we can be more aware of its shadowy presence.