The Internet of Things (IoT) is a common term that gets thrown around in the tech world, but if you are not part of that world on a daily basis you may not realize what all is covered by that broad term. Developers are pushing the boundaries of technology every day, and the Internet of Things will eventually be a part of everyone’s home.

On a broad spectrum, the IoT is an intricate system of devices that are connected and can transfer data over a network. All of these connected devices are considered “things” and the network is the “internet” giving us the Internet of Things.

A thing can be a smart car with a chip to notify the driver of any internal issues, a refrigerator with an internal camera that can be accessed from another thing (cell phone, tablet, etc.) remotely. A coffee maker that can be set to brew from your cell phone would be another example of a thing. Essentially, anything that can be assigned an IP address and has the ability to transfer data falls into this broad category of things.

Access to the internet is becoming widely available, and the cost of high-speed internet is also becoming more affordable each year. The cost of technology that allows devices to access the internet has also been increasing in affordability. These trends are allowing developers to take devices that are already mainstays in most households (fridge, microwave, coffee maker) and upgrade them with Wi-Fi capability and allow users to access them remotely via their cell phones.

The rush by developers to create Wi-Fi capable items and devices has experts excited about the future of the IoT. There are three relationships for these network connections: human-human, human-thing, and thing-thing. With the early success of the IoT, there is a mindset of “if it can be connected, it should be connected” and that mindset has grown the IoT tremendously in the past few years. Experts are forecasting that there will be over 26 billion connected devices by 2020, and most believe that is a conservative number. The real number could be upwards of over 100 billion.

The IoT will have a large impact on most American households in the not so distant future based on those forecasted numbers. Most people have one of two mindsets when it comes to this world of connects. They either wonder why you would want to be so connected to everything, or they wonder why you wouldn’t want to be. No matter what your thoughts are on the IoT, the reality is that these devices are already in production. I wouldn’t mind living in a world where my alarm clock goes off and sends my coffee maker a notification to start brewing, but that’s just me.

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