The Internet of Things, for the Rest of Ushttp://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/04/02/what-the-heck-is-the-internet-of-things.aspx Chris Neiger
April 2, 2014
Technology is exhausting. The draw is that it's constantly evolving and bringing new benefits, but that unending change is what prevents so many of us from keeping up with technology's breakneck pace.
Take the Internet of Things, or IoT, for example. It's a weird phrase, to be honest. It gives us no clue as to what it means, and feels just as distant as Einstein's Theory of Everything. But over the next decade IoT could change the way you turn the lights on in your home, how you drive your car to work, and even how you purchase groceries.
Two of the most influential companies on the planet, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and General Electric (NYSE: GE), are both diving head first into the Internet of Things. The companies are using their technology and industrial know-how to bring IoT devices into homes and change how businesses use industrial equipment.
Internet of Things: A network of physical objects (refrigerators!) that contain embedded technology (like sensors and Wi-Fi) to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment (that tell your smartphone when you've run out of milk)."
Think of the Internet of Things as a way for everyday objects to talk to each other, and to talk to you.
Google is trying its hand at the Internet of Things via its $3.2 billion purchase in January of a company called Nest Labs. Nest makes a smart thermostat that has light, humidity, and activity sensors that learn a user's sleeping and waking patterns, and temperature preferences. The device then programs itself (set it and forget it!) to be the most efficient based on the user's comfort level. It can also be controlled with an app on smart devices.
The Internet of Things will allow automated control of devices like this, as well as smoke detectors, lighting, security systems, and ultimately nearly any device in the home. By 2018, the majority of homes are expected to have about 200 devices hooked into the Internet of Things.
Moving out of the home
General Electric is also tapping the Internet of Things, in what they call the Industrial Internet. GE developed a software platform, Predix, which is used create apps for machines and connected devices that tap into information gathered from sensors. Gol, a Brazilian airline, is saving $90 million over the next five years by using GE's system to analyze flight routes and fuel use. Other companies are using GE's Industrial Internet technolo