Everything nowadays has to be smart. From our phones to our cars, it seems like all our normal everyday objects have the prefix “smart” in front of them.
The term “smart” objects, also commonly known as the Internet of Things, refers to the connectivity of objects to a larger communication system with a central control; that is, items that are a part of the Internet of Things are all connected via wifi or a cellular signal to each other and to a controlling item like a smartphone or a tablet.
The first incidence of the Internet of Things occurred in the 1980s on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University located in Pittsburgh, PA. A Coca-Cola machine was programmed with the ability to “report” its inventory to the manufacturer so that it could be refilled when the stock got low but before it was totally depleted. Since then, the Internet of Things has exploded to include small items like lamps and coffee makers to entire homes’ security systems and even entire cities’ wifi.
Smart homes have become something of a Jetson’s dream home with everything in the home enabled with wifi connectivity so they can be controlled from everywhere. There have been rudimentary forms of this for a long time, specifically regarding nanny cams, or security cameras placed throughout a home and monitored elsewhere.
In kitchens, ovens and dishwashers are starting to come pre-loaded with wifi capabilities so that users can activate them no matter where they are. Refrigerators are enabled with Bluetooth and cameras so that users can play music from them and see the contents while out on the go. Security systems and security lights can also be connected to a smartphone and activated while the user is away on vacation.
In theory, all this connectivity would be incredibly valuable to a homeowner and provide an added level of convenience, safety, and comfort. However, significant questions have arisen surrounding the cost vs. benefit and the cybersecurity of these items.
All these smart appliances and systems prove very costly, and the return on investment is not looking great. Consumers have indicated that there was no demand whatsoever for a refrigerator with an internal camera when writing down items on a shopping list will do the exact same job. The same issue plagued the smartwatch, which is still struggling to find a place in the modern tech market, where it is perceived as redundant.
Another serious issue is the actual security of these devices. As it turns out, unlike computers, these devices are not equipped with the cyber firewalls that deter hackers from taking control of these devices, or worse yet, stealing sensitive information off these devices to siphon banking data.
The market is still deciding the future of the smart home, but it will take significant strides in the technology, cybersecurity, and user input to make them functional enough to seamless integrate into the modern home.