IMAGINE that on Thursday you took out the last box of milk from your fridge and drained out the last half pint from it to make your cereal. Without you doing anything, Friday morning the delivery guy from your regular supermarket turned up at your door with your week’s supply of milk plus a couple other items you had run out of the day before. This is an example of the Internet of Things one of the latest buzz phrases in the Information Technology domain.
In our example, the fridge was equipped with its own processor and scanners and was able to detect when your milk was finished. It beamed an order via your WiFi to your supermarket, which promptly filled the order, the cost was automatically applied to your credit card, and you also received a text message indicating that the order was filled and the cost. Then your milk arrived at your door!
This is fantastic, and is not a futuristic notion but is happening today! Did you know that successful retail giants like Walmart operate like this? They do not stop, close down and “take inventory”. When an item runs below its reorder point based on items being cashed at the point of sale, Walmart’s computers, which are connected to those of their suppliers, talk to each other, indicating that new stock is needed without any human intervention. The suppliers’ trucks then turn up with the goods.
As a matter of fact, Walmart has been using technology called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for the longest while. When RFID tags are affixed to their inventory, then a particular item can more or less “say” or indicate where exactly it is in the supply chain which in the case of Walmart is global. What happens is that these RFID tags emit a signal, which is read by RFID readers. This is not just a simple matter of indicating where the item is, but complicated processing can be facilitated by this technology.
MBA Forum readers may be wondering, “Wow, when will Jamaica get technology like this?” Well, we already have. If you purchased a toll tag and affixed it to your vehicle, then you are in the presence of technology at work when you enter that toll booth, where the toll tag on your vehicle transmits information to the RFID reader at the toll booth, which does some processing and decrements your toll balance by the toll charge.
The Internet of Things has far-reaching possibilities and implications. The possibilities are endless! Imagine all your devices and equipment at home whirring, buzzing, scanning, processing, sending messages to each other, turning on your coffee maker when you wake after your alarm clock sent it a message, your car plotting your GPS route based on the a message about your meeting location sent to it by the calendar on your smartphone. Wow this is bewildering!
And the implications? Well here are a couple . One we will get even lazier. You will not even need to twitch a muscle and burn a calorie to take up the TV remote, since the TV will sense your presence and turn on to your favourite channel when you sit in the couch. Not only that, but it will set the volume based on your unique preference, and adjust it for other members of the family. And two someone will soon be able to stay in another country and hack into your toaster and spy into your fridge!
IT Security revisited
We discussed security issues before, and you now see that it will get even worse. There will be umpteen more possible entry points for intruders to slip in and “borrow” your credit card and other personal information. At just a few clicks, people will be able to pull up information about your age, address, income, assets, family members, outstanding loans and even that obscure middle name that you have been hiding! In the Internet Age, the term “privacy” is becoming more and more of an alien concept — get used to it!
And even though you cannot trust your password for ultimate defence please don’t make it easy by using your pet’s name, or your birthday, or “password”, or “12345”! Oh, you think that people are not so foolish? Have a look at the website: http://gizmodo.com/the-25-most-popular-passwords-of-2014-were-all-doomed-1680596951. The name of the article is The 25 Most Popular Passwords of 2014: We’re All Doomed. No need for my commenting on that you get the point.
Internet 2.0 social media
I can now guess your age range by how you react to Facebook, Twitter and these new social media phenomena. Many people now publish to their friends (and to the whole world), when they are drinking their coffee, when they are entering the bathroom, when they arrive at school/ work, when they start eating lunch (and send a picture of the lunch gasp!), when they go to sleep, when they wake etc…
Here is my personal, original, non-scientific assessment. If your reaction is to dive in and do the same, then you are under 35 years old. If there is mild participation, but some reservation in disclosing some “more personal” information, then you are between 35 – 45. If there is calm acceptance, but non-participation, you are 45 -55. The over 55s find the concept absolutely revolting!
Since I am on a roll, let me throw in some more If you use only one index finger to find the keys on a smartphone, you are in the 40 to 50 age group. If you have to look at the keys to find every key, while using your one index finger, then you are over 50!
And some “brawta” if you use both thumbs on your smartphone, and hardly need to look at the keys you are under 25! And lastly, if you use your thumbs extensively like even pressing a doorbell with your thumb, you are an Internet Baby and under 18. One guy on Twitter exclaimed, “because of smartphones my thumbs now have biceps!”