▲ IoT Background. Provided by luigidebernardini.com
Currently, there are more objects connected to the internet than humans. Likewise, all of the objects that people use in daily life are continuously spreading their territories into the internet, creating a new era of the Internet of Things (IoT). If smartphones dominated the Information Technology (IT) world since 2010, IoT will be next to take the crown. However, like the phrase “One who wears the crown bears the crown,” unless the security system of IoT is appropriately established, humans might fall into great danger.
Although the full name of IoT is internet of things, it is also called internet of everything as the IoT industry is evolving to reach many daily items that humans handle. IoT is a network in which physical
objects are provided the ability to exchange and transfer data without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. Even though many people might not be fully aware of its true impact in Korea, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Digital Economy Outlook 2015 report, the Korean IoT market industry is third in line in the whole world with 18 million devices being included in the industry.
Considering the rapid growth of the IoT industry, numerous firms and even the government are concentrating their energy in redesigning their business models along the IoT industry. For instance,
on the last week of October, starting from the 26th is the 2015 IoT promotion week set out by the government. During that week, anyone can visit places like Convention & Exhibition (Coex) to experience and learn about IoT in industries, as well as everyday life settings. Exhibitions, academic conferences, seminars, and nine other events are expected to be held there. Although not a massive event, by seeing how major firms and countries are stressing their influences more and more on the industry, IoT definitely has a massive vision ahead.
Making a Better Life for Humans
▲ Google Glass. Provided by Google.
Moreover, due to the fact that IoT empowers the business process by enabling the control of the physical world with information technology, there are currently numerous cutting edge IoT devices that are expected to usher in more convenience to the everyday lives of people. Many of them are wearable devices and those applications have features that assist people in automation in nearly all fields from electricity to health care.
For example, although they are not perfect in form, the Google Glass and the Google Self-Driving Car have various features expected to make life easier for humans. The Google Glass is a wearable type of IoT technology with an Optical Head-Mounted Display (OHMD). It has features of a smartphone while allowing wearers to communicate with the internet through voice commands and displays events through the glass. The Google Self-Driving Car comes from a vision to allow people to drive easily and safely regardless of people's ability to drive. These two products of Google are expected to automate many of people’s daily tasks.
▲ Google Car. Provided by Google.
However, according to Professor Lee Dongwon (Business School), the industry that has the brightest future in the IoT business will definitely be in manufacturing and distribution. “If the invention of the internet started the third industrial revolution, IoT will bring up the fourth, or Industry 4.0,” said Professor Lee. Germany has already begun with Industry 4.0; since 2010, it has set up smart factories in which all components are connected to one another using an intelligent operating system based on IoT. He then added that continuous development in IoT will consequently lead to a massive improvement in productivity.
Three Dilemmas of IoT Technology
“As long as people are connected to the internet technology, they will never be free from security and privacy issues,” said Professor Lee. In other words, if humans were not involved in the technology making process, problems such as hacking would not have occurred in the first place as there will always be someone who wants to hack. He also added that even though technology might seem impeccable at some point, hackers or crackers will always find a glitch in it. He then pointed out three major dangers that IoT technology might bring forth which are as follows: security, privacy, and unemployment.
▲ Professor Lee Dongwon. Photographed by Seo Jaehee.
To begin with, security issues are particularly a serious problem in IoT technology, for if hackers use the technology in the wrong way the technology might even take lives. For instance, many firms such as Google are putting their strength on building smart cars that move automatically. However, if a smart car’s system is hacked or something goes wrong with the system, lives could easily be taken. As technology comes to be more connected with humans, the profundity of the problems on humans becomes bigger.
Another problem that IoT faces and must fight to settle is privacy issues. As physical objects that are directly connected to the daily lives of people are increasing, the privacy of people will be invaded. Since IoT technology will be with people everywhere, the data about where, when, and what people do will be continuously observed. According to Professor Lee, as long as firms seek information for the big data, privacy of humans could be lost forever. Although the big data could be used to create a better life for humans, if misused, IoT could even act as a constant surveillance tool.
The last problem of IoT that Professor Lee mentioned was unemployment. As manufacturing and distribution become automated, the labor of humans will be much less needed. While firms might be with great ease due to IoT, the labor market will struggle with unemployment rates in the future. Much of the work in the production process that humans originally did as part of their jobs will be automated by technology and many would lose their jobs.
Yet Again IoT is the Future
“Even though there might be failure, the benefits of technology are bigger,” said Professor Lee. Likewise, if the IoT industry does spread its technology as its original vision, not only the convenience of humans will be expanded but lives could also be saved. For instance, the Health patch is a wearable wireless fabric patch sensor that monitors the wellbeing of the wearer by constantly measuring the person's heart rate, stress rate, sleeping patterns, and other health indicators.
According to Professor Lee, these healthcare services provided by IoT devices would not only save lives of individuals but will aid hospitals and insurance companies as a whole since they will play a large part in creating health related big data. Therefore, the big data created by IoT will aid humans into receiving the services that is suitable for each individual.
Like what Professor Lee had mentioned, security issues have been with technology ever since it was invented. However, it is again humans who will be the ones to struggle to mend security problems. In addition, it is the greed itself that made technology develop into the current form since problems that are unnoticed in the making process can be corrected because of the hackers and crackers. In other words, although people connected to the internet will never be free from the three dilemmas that IoT would bring to them, they will always find an appropriate answer.