Are you on board with the internet of things?

Paul Timms, Group Managing Director, The MCSA Group, is happy to go with the flow

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The Internet Of Things – or IOT if you must – seems to be the current fad and must have term for any communication or software house to have very high on their Google ranking lists.

I’m as susceptible to it as anyone else; look at the buzz around the new Apple Watch. If the rumours are true, it’s going to revolutionise the way I look at my wrist!  It will enable me to call my friends, answer emails, search my favourite websites, using secret symbols sketched or tapped onto the watch face, and much more, any place, any time!  It sounds like fun; transporting me back to being a small child when dreams of having a James Bond ‘Q-esque’ watch would allow me to blow up toys, while announcing to my friends down the road when it was time for us to go and play with our action men in the mud.

Where will IOT take us next? We are limited only by our imagination.  Wearable devices that have practical and life changing benefits are here now. They can monitor our health, take our temperature, record our heart rate and send the data direct to our doctor. They could bring new solutions for carers with responsibility for young children or older relatives, ensuring they are eating their 5-a-day, taking the right medication or keeping tabs on where they are, at any point in time.

It won’t be long before intelligent fridges will be available to all. They can tell us what food is being stored, list the items by their ‘use by’ dates and come up with menus to create new tasty meals.

Cars have already been fitted with insurance saving devices that ‘watch’ how we drive and computers monitor where we go. Google lets me know every morning what the traffic is like for my daily commute without me asking. It knows my routine as well as I do.  If only it could get my kids out of bed on time!!

Is this a revolution or evolution?  If this sounds like I’m sceptical then let me set the record straight. There are already enough naysayers and privacy cynics out there. For my part, a lot of this new technology is just re-incarnating ideas we have always had, another enabler, another thing that delivers opportunities for more people. Any encouragement for us to communicate is always a good thing in my book.  The IOT is another step in the evolutionary chain; I can now access it via a new watch, wherever I am.

The IOT will provide the tools to help solve complex issues however I suspect there will be some issues that even the smartest device will not fully resolve. Will a new smart thermostat solve that age old argument between my wife and I about what the temperature is and what temperature it should be set to?  A device that senses which of us is in the house, which rooms we are in and then adjusts to suit each of us. How ‘cool’, no pun intended.  Reconciling these differences is, I suspect, beyond even the IOT and the smartest of watches.

So who cares if I use a watch to help keep me healthy by uploading my data, to be digitised forever?  So what?  It cannot decide how big a slice of cake I eat; it cannot take exercise for me or decide how fast I drive.  I know my actions have consequences, and perhaps it may help me drive more safely, similar to when someone is watching me in real life.

Anyone who has been to the USA, watched the news or read the newspaper reports recently will know there is a ‘massive’ obesity issue. If wearable technology is going to help people help themselves, then why not?

All of this means that there is a lot of data out there and in my view this is not a problem. The clever and responsible use of it will provide a whole new world of opportunity. In The MCSA Group’s world we see the impact of this in requests from various companies to help them cope with the processing and analysing of this data for their own purposes.  These include helping the NHS deal with patients better or enabling ticket sellers to cope with a ramp in demand due to a social media launch. The world continues to evolve and we roll with it.

I just hope the new Apple watch doesn’t have an aversion to a large slice of chocolate cake when required. Then again, I can always take it off…

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