August 23, 2017
The future is near and in many small ways, it’s already here. We are living in an era of ‘smart’ machines and many of us have them in our homes and use them every day. It certainly is strange to think that for some of us, our refrigerator, smoke detectors, door bells and many other common household items are already integrated into our home network. As wonderful and ‘far-out’ as this may seem, we are only beginning to scratch the surface of all the coming potential ways in which intelligent systems and machines, connected via networks is starting to shape our needs, our daily habits, the way we interact, our work environments and even how we see and experience the world.
This dawning of new and uncharted technological territories has been described as the new industrial revolution, Industry 4.0 or The Internet of Things. This is starting to capture the centre stage in society and will be instrumental in building a better and more sustainable existence in which we can truly begin to shape our utopian imaginings.
When the internet first opened its doors to the world, there were less than a million devices connected to the World Wide Web. Fast-forward twenty odd years into the future and we currently have more than two billion mobile devices connected to the internet from all reaches of the earth. Take another 10 year leap and we will probably see all vehicles and transportation networks, water and power services, street lights, household appliances and even the clothing we wear all integrated into this fast growing network of networks. This will occur to such an end that sensors will be capable of monitoring and managing our environments and lives, in a system that is constantly learning, improving and making life more efficient across all sectors of society.
Imagine for a moment, a house that heats itself while you are on your way home or a refrigerator that orders groceries for you when it detects that you may be running low on them. Even health and medication monitors will be able to notify you if you missed taking a pill or have an elevated heart rate.
This coming reality also spells out a vast paradigm shift for the way in which we do business. Companies will be able to incorporate smart networks into their production, advertisement, sales, logistics, book keeping and staffing functions. With this, they will be able to minimise cost, maximise profit and deliver a tailored customer experience which hits the mark every time- because they will know their clients so much better through the infinite connections they can leverage with their consumer base.
This can all seem confusing and intimating to so many as the rate of evolution of our digital age is always accelerating and there are certainly some bugs which will need to be ironed out as we move forward. However, so many stakeholders and groups, including industry consortia, governmental agencies and other interest groups are continually improving collaboration and sharing in order to make this transition into the future as smooth and painless as possible.
Exciting times are ahead, so do watch this space.
Stories by Garrick Stanford