The Internet of Things (IoT) has evolved from high tech to home tech. Almost anything with the word ‘smart” attached to it could be part of the IoT – even smart toilets or automatic kitty litter boxes! Here’s the latest in this game changing technology.
According to Wikipedia, “The Internet of Things (IoT), describes devices with sensors, processing ability, software and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks.”
Consumers – especially older ones – will be able to choose from many more devices with many more functions that automate processes and improve efficiency. In fact Statista forecasted IoT growth to surge from 15.1 billion devices in 2023 to 29.4 billion in 2030. Consumers may account for 60% of all connected IoT devices…so you’ll be encountering even more ‘smart’ devices in the future. – and buying them.
Popular IoT Products
There are throngs of devices that can assist, entertain, or protect users. It all starts with a smartphone, which acts as a controller for the user. With your smartphone you can join the IoT with devices for:
Health And Wellness
Health and wellness products provide informative and life-saving data for users and their doctors. Many seniors routinely use smart watches to conduct EKGs, monitor heart rate, count activity, steps or calories, send an alert after a fall and more. Pacemakers for those with heart conditions and glucose monitors for diabetics are among the medical devices that healthcare providers can screen remotely.
If you are planning on buying a new home – or remodeling your current one – you’ll find a ton of options for a smart kitchen. Now there are air fryers that let you download recipes to your phone, ovens that tell you when the food’s done, and even beermakers enabled for IoT. This year IoT kitchen devices grew 95%!
Attention, bathroom readers – in the future your bathroom may be smarter than you!! Some estimate the smart bathroom could grow to 11.4 billion devices by 2032. Expect to see “smart bathrooms” that control lights, mirrors, showers, flooring, and more. Turn windows opaque via an app – or experience a ‘smart toilet” – for anywhere from $1,000 to $8,000.
For most of us, the living room is the IoT device “home base.” You can find home climate control systems, sofas with speakers and wireless charging stations, and smart fans (plus the usual TV and home entertainment systems).
Other IoT home devices for consumers include virtual assistants, security systems, doorbells, garage doors, and even vehicles.
Requirements for IoT devices
For consumers, all it takes is a smartphone, WiFi connectivity, and an IoT enabled device or appliance.
- Smartphones. It all starts with a smartphone. Remember that the speed of the phone determines the speed of the download, so a 5G phone will work faster than a 4G one.
- Connectivity. The communication between IoT devices and a central server or cloud platform happens through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or cellular network connectivity. (Learn how to access information and help about low-cost connectivity options through the Affordable Connectivity Program here.)
- Ease of Connectivity. Is there a clear and strong enough signal for your IoT devices to work with your smartphone?
- Helpline. Does the IoT device have tech support? Is help a phone call away, a live chat option or a website?
Before you buy an IoT device…
…there are some caveats. IoT devices are subject to issues including:
- Power and internet outages.
- Privacy and Surveillance – Reuters reported that Tesla workers shared private images from customers’ cars in chat rooms earlier this year.
- Hacking – The 15 billion connected IoT devices are a target of hackers. Microsoft’s 2022 Digital Defense Report stated, “While the security of IT hardware and software has strengthened in recent years, the security of Internet of Things (IoT) … has not kept pace.”
Security and Privacy
With the above mentioned concerns about privacy and security, keep these safety tips in mind:
Don’t connect your devices to public internet, and that includes your phone.
Give each device a strong, unique password. Don’t duplicate or reuse a password.
Set up multi-factor authentication (MFA), which ensures that only the owner inputs changes to the device or the software.
Router care. Monitor your routers and replace outdated ones.
Split up your network. Your refrigerator and laptop should not be on the same network. Most routers will allow a second network setup.
Sign up for upgrades, updates and recalls for firmware (that’s software for hardware), and software up to date. as well as manufacturers email updates and recalls.
Want to learn more about The Internet of Things and digital best practices? Join Senior Planet on Monday October 16, at 3:00 PM EDT. for a Zoom session on this game changing technology. Learn more here.
What IoT devices do you have in your home? How have they improved your life?
Deborah Reale is a digital marketing and communications consultant specializing in social media, analytics, content writing, and editing. Ms. Reale has written for Business Development Magazine, Construction Industry Today, and quoted in Investor’s Business Daily and the book Social Media in Action. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and a graduate degree in business administration.