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The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT – What does that even mean, anyway? Could it be more opaque?
Well, lucky for you I consulted a little-known print/online magazine called Wired to sort out just what-the-heck this Internet of Things thing is. Here’s what it had to say:

The Internet of Things revolves around increased machine-to-machine communication; it’s built on cloud computing and networks of data-gathering sensors; it’s mobile, virtual, and instantaneous connection; and they say it’s going to make everything in our lives from streetlights to seaports “smart.”

There it is. A one-sentence definition of the Internet of Things (“IoT”). Case closed, right? Wrong. Turns out the “IoT” is slated to be a real game-changer in almost every aspect of your life. For example, let’s say you buy a pair of Nike running shoes that have a sensor built into them. You then download the corresponding app for your smartwatch or smart phone and take a run. The information from the sensor in your shoes (such as how fast you’re running and for how long and your typical route) is being transmitted to the app in real time and being stored in the cloud. So now that these devices are communicating, the accumulated data can be used to help improve your running. Maybe you have a tendency to pronate while you run and you are at risk of a muscle tear? Or, maybe your usual route is blocked off because there’s a craft fair taking up the sidewalks? The app provides you with an answer, an alternate path based on other user data that is equal in distance to your usual run and allows you to keep up with your regiment. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?

Well, that is one of the more straightforward and helpful ways in which the “IoT” is going to change our lives. The subtext to this, of course, is that intimate and specific data about you and your interests will be made available to just about any interested party. So: your wonderful running app and intelligent shoes are providing you with a new and invigorating spin on exercise. But with the potential of the “IoT”, it could soon be possible that a new route is deliberately devised for you so that you run past a billboard for a specific product of which the mining of your data has suggested you would likely be interested in purchasing.

Because while the “IoT” possesses the potential to improve the safety and quality of our lives so too does it possess the ability for advertisers to hone a finer point on their marketing tools. While that may initially sound nefarious, there exists massive potential for the creation of new products and services that could change our lives in unforeseen ways as a result of blind data collection. It may even level up the playing field a bit, allowing local businesses to compete in a congested market with the various titans of industry that currently dominate the realm of advertising. Having a concise understanding of your customer base is an amazing tool regardless of scope. An effective web presence (best accomplished by online video advertising, of course) is integral to any business plan, big or small, and incorporating localized content into your advertising could only ever be a boon.

Hey, let’s face it, data is the future. With the amount of personal information that we willingly disclose through social media and other forums, it shouldn’t be shocking to learn that it’s also being collected elsewhere without our express consent. Although how do I know for sure, I never read the User Agreement. I’ll tell you one thing though, indignation at the faceless absorption of our data certainly ain’t gonna change anything and, frankly, that argument is a little didactic. Data collection will only become more pervasive and subtle.

As an advertiser, the Internet of Things should be embraced. It will allow unprecedented access and traction in ensuring that precious advertising dollars are spent effectively in reaching the exact people they’re intended to reach. But it’s not so basic as simply making it easier to hock product to the mindless masses. The “IoT” allows companies to track usage and satisfaction in real time, thereby putting product refinement and functionality at the forefront of the user experience. In other words: maybe this will temper the onslaught of cheap crap currently on offer and provide a shot-in-the-arm for quality control. Either way, modern life will continue to change and evolve. Before you know it we will hardly ever have to think about anything; our machines will be smart for us. What a relief.

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