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Emerging technologies: IoT

What is IoT?

IoT stands for Internet of Things, a concept used to describe a network of physical objects embedded with sensors, connected to other devices and systems through the internet. They exchange data and provide information, remote control, automation, and other benefits.

The history of IoT dates back to the 1960’s with the creation of the internet itself, but it was not until 1982 that the first connected device was conceived, in the form of a Coca-Cola vending machine controlled by local programmers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. That was enough to start a series of studies in the field that led to development of different technologies, which made IoT practical today.

The Internet of Things has an extensive set of applications for multiple industries, such as manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, medical and healthcare, as well as for regular individuals. In the business world, IoT helps to monitor and regulate working systems by analyzing data from different equipment and sensors, automating processes, generating insights, and saving time and money as a result. For consumers, Internet of Things is more associated with wearable technology and home automation. The latter includes the use of lighting, air conditioning, media, and security devices, all connected to a hub or a central, creating the smart home concept.

How IoT is going to change people’s lives

Over the past few years, the number of IoT applications has increased rapidly, making it one of the most important technologies for the foreseeable future. Recently, the access to low-cost and low-power sensors, easier connectivity, and technologies such as cloud platforms, machine learning, and artificial intelligence have made IoT possible (and viable) for both businesses and consumers. In this hyperconnected environment we find ourselves in, it’s almost inevitable to live without something related to IoT. The rule for the future seems to be "anything that can be connected, will be connected".

Having multiple objects around connected and talking to each other has potential value to everyone’s lives. Smart homes, for instance, allow energy savings by turning off lights and electronics automatically, more security thanks to connected systems of cameras and sensors, not to mention the time it can save by doing things that can be automated, like preparing a coffee or even ordering supplies that are running out. Wearable devices are another effective way in which IoT is already changing people’s lives. Smartwatches gather important health data that help users to live better, by tracking exercises, notifying when someone is inactive for a long time, or if there are abnormal heart symptoms. In short, IoT allows virtually endless changes and benefits to take place.

Lastly, an interesting way IoT is going to change the world is by enabling connected cars. With IoT, car owners will be able to operate their vehicles remotely, be it preheating the car before the driver gets in it or even summoning the car by phone. In the future, the whole car ownership model could be changed because automobile makers will start to offer transportation as a service using autonomous cars.

The concerns about IoT and its impact on careers and jobs

Being one of the hottest topics today, IoT certainly opens the door to a myriad of opportunities. This concept has a huge potential impact not only on how we live, but also on how we work. Of course, there are challenges and concerns too, especially when it comes to security and privacy, and some could also argue that autonomous machines will take over jobs that are currently performed by people.

Speaking of security and privacy implications, with billions of devices being connected together, it may be scary to imagine we might be vulnerable for potential attacks from hackers and cybercriminals. The risk is real and can’t be denied, as tech companies will have to face that in order to make devices secure. Another obligation will be finding a way to store, track, and analyze massive amounts of data safely.

On the impact of IoT on jobs and careers, some people may initially feel threatened, because there will certainly be significant changes in the way we are used to working. Whereas it’s a matter of time until everybody realizes the positive impact of IoT, people will have to figure out a way to insert themselves in this new era, as there will be plenty of opportunities.

New jobs will emerge because of IoT. These jobs will require knowledge on specific industries and technologies, aligned with hard and soft skills, like team management, for example. Careers like product managers, hardware and software developers, data scientists, marketing specialists, and every other type of job that relies on development, analytics, and quantitative skills will have a rise in demand. On the other hand, traditional, low-skill, repetitive (and sometimes, unsafe) jobs will end up being replaced by machines – while jobs that require human attributes like creativity, intuitiveness and empathy will not be so affected.

Overall, IoT is going to boost the economy, increase productivity, and bring socio-economic benefits. But we must keep trying to better understand the pros and cons and educate ourselves about the impacts on our lives.

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