NewsWorks Staff: Internet of Things' concept is a little frightening and very enticing

NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller interviews WHYY reporter Elizabeth Fiedler about the "Internet of Things." NewsWorks Staff: In terms of the scariness, I guess any new technology that allows you to collect that much data from that many things has some weird possibilities. Anything can be used for good or ill, I guess, so it's something to keep an eye on. The "Internet of Things" can be described in two ways -- exciting and perhaps a little scary. WHYY reporter Elizabeth Fiedler joined NewsWorks Tonight host Dave Heller to break down the concept. It's part of NewsWorks "Just You Wait" series, where we look at the names and phrases of things you may not have heard of yet, but most likely will hear more about sometime this year.

The "Internet of Things" involves connecting objects, living things or even electronics -- then gathering  information into a database for analysis.
David Greenfield of "Automation World" magazine explains it using an example of cows on a farm. Greenfield says a sensor could be attached to a cow to monitor its temperature, giving a farmer the information to help decide the best time for milking.

Greenfield describes installing sensors in machines as a way of applying the concept to the manufacturing industry. The data gathered would indicate when a machine is in need of maintenance or replacement.

The concept of the "Internet of Things" can be applied at home, as well. Greenfield uses your coffeemaker as an example. When you prepare coffee for the next morning, you would typically set a time for the coffeemaker to brew the coffee around the same time you were scheduled to wake up. But what happens if you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock?

Greenfield says a sensor could be placed on the coffeemaker that would respond to your alarm clock. If you hit the snooze button and sleep for another 10 minutes, your coffeemaker would delay brewing.

Many researchers find the concept exciting, although the possibility of attaching sensors to all sorts of objects is still a little out there.
"In terms of the scariness, I guess any new technology that allows you to collect that much data from that many things has some weird possibilities. Anything can be used for good or ill, I guess, so it's something to keep an eye on," Greenfield said.
 
So, what do you think? Does the concept behind the "Internet of Things" go too far or is this the type of technology you could get used to? Tell NewsWorks what you think in the comments section below.



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