Without sounding dramatic, we are quickly and surely being made subject to a mass invasion of the technological kind. The Internet of Things (IoT) affects us on a daily basis, whether we like it or not.
Think of a fridge that orders groceries online, or a car that has a back to base alarm system, or inter-connected sensor traffic lights that keep the traffic flowing.
The IoT in basic terms is a network of internet-connected objects able to collect and exchange data using embedded sensors (Business Insider, 2016).
Gone are the days when my wrist watch simply told the time, my new fandangled smart watch can now read my pulse, count my calories, measure my fitness, and manage my workouts. And to add to the joy, it can monitor my food intake to make sure those extra calories aren’t creeping in.
There’s no escape, even the machines know when you’re having a lazy couch session. I have to admit though; it excites me that we now have the capability to monitor and change our behaviour using data. But it’s user beware.
The IoT means our privacy is challenged because our personal data is collated and stored externally to us, and we can share it with whoever we like. Our capacity to communicate using the data continues to grow.
Businesses hold vast amounts of information about consumers, often personal, which can be used to change relationships and alter consumer behaviour.
Let’s take the smart watch example, which records our weekly achievements and shares our milestones with ‘friends’ online. It doesn’t take long before that competitive nature kicks in where you want to better your previous efforts or beat your friend’s daily step count.
The smart watch company is concurrently selling you the idea of a healthier lifestyle to improve yourself. Before you know it, you’re buying fitness accessories and personal training sessions.
I love the idea of the IoT and how it can improve our lives, but as consumers, we need to be aware what smart data is being collated about us, and how we can be smart in our own decisions.