The Internet of Things

Science fiction literature, film and television, has long entertained us with the idea of speaking our wishes to a computer, and our electronic servant answering with the requested data or task. At a time when connecting your computer to the internet with a dial-up modem and looking for information on a web search engine was only just becoming popular, it seemed like this dream of intelligent electronic servants was nothing but the figment of a writer’s imagination. But, what seemed no more than a fantasy at the turn of the century, is now becoming an everyday reality with the advent of the Internet of Things.

What is this Internet of Things, you may ask? Simply put, it’s the network of everyday gadgets and appliances that are connected to the internet. Devices and appliances are increasingly being manufactured with networking capabilities, especially in the sphere of the development of the Smart Home.

A network-connected fridge comes with an LCD touch screen, where you can program it with the contents and best-before dates. It can warn you when something is about to go off, and even automatically reorder from a grocery delivery service. You can also check your fridge from your computer or smart phone from anywhere in the world, just to make sure you’re not running low on cold beer! Similar capabilities exist for washing machines, coffeemakers — the list goes on.

It’s not just appliances that benefit from networking. Home automation in a broader sense has long been possible through consoles and remote controls that control lighting, security, and home entertainment. Adding Wi-Fi capability promises to take it another step into the future, with smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo. They are voice activated devices that can do web searches, play media, and even order items from their respective web stores.