Smart technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), and connectivity are all terms that are thrown about with wild abandon in most tech articles written today. Even though these words are used continually, most of us do not actually know what smart technology is, or just how integrated it is into our daily lives.
The reality is that smart technology already plays a significant role in most of our lives, whether we are aware of it or not. Smart technology is only becoming more ubiquitous and important, so it is worth understanding what it is.
What is smart technology?
The best place to start is at the beginning with the question, what is smart technology? Smart technology is difficult to restrict to a single, concise definition because it encompasses such a wide range of different technologies and technical capabilities.
The term smart technology actually comes from an acronym that means Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology. However, the technology became widely known as smart technology or ‘smart tech’ because the concept of an inanimate object talking with us and guiding us through steps suggests a certain type of intelligence.
Breaking down the different types of smart technology
Yogesh Malik, the former VEON CTO, suggests that smart technology can be loosely divided into three different categories of smart tech. The first category comprises smart devices such as coffee makers that can be programmed to make coffee at a specific time every day. These are devices that possess an element of automation and can be quickly programmed to perform certain tasks using an intuitive user interface. For these devices, network connectivity is not required.
The second category that Malik describes is smart connected devices. These devices include smart fridges, smartphones, smart bulbs, and smart security cameras or doorbells. These devices are controlled and monitored using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, LTE, or another type of connectivity.
Finally, Malik lists a third category: IoT devices. These devices are much more large scale and technologically advanced and combine products with analytics, application, and networking or the internet. These devices create more value than smart devices or smart connected devices because they are easier to upgrade, scale and automate. When you think of IoT devices, you can think of smart homes, smart cities or smart factories.
Reading through this, you are likely able to recognise many of your home appliances as smart devices and your home tech as smart connected devices. However, you likely do not yet have much experience with IoT devices, and there is a reason for that: IoT technology is still in its infancy and being slowly rolled out around the world.
Moreover, many of the smart technology IoT devices are being used in settings that are removed from our everyday lives, such as the digital twins used in manufacturing and industrial development. That being said, you are likely to see much more IoT incorporation and use in the future, and you may even start noticing it more now that you know what to look for.
Recreation and hobbies
One part of everyday life that has been drastically changed by smart technology and IoT are recreation and hobbies. Sports fans are able to engage in a whole new level of depth when it comes to understanding the games and supporting certain players. IoT plays a role in player development and safety and engagement with fans. According to a report from Deloitte, IoT allows fans to better consider game strategy, predict potential injuries, and customise the fan experience by analysing data via multiple connected, smart devices.
IoT and smart devices are also set to revolutionise the online gambling and digital casino industry. The online casino industry has exploded in popularity, and now there are hundreds of different digital gambling platforms for prospective gamblers to choose from. This level of competition in the industry fosters innovation and is driving the push for IoT and offers such as online casino PayPal payment options.
Market researchers are predicting that IoT, AI and Big Data will be used in tandem by online casinos in order to create the optimal gambling experience. Through the use of IoT, a player’s gambling performance could be analysed across multiple devices and platforms. This could allow the player to create a digital space all their own that includes games, themes and offers that IoT and AI have selected specifically for them and their personal tastes and interests.
Personal privacy under attack
The dawn of IoT also brings with it a number of risks – perhaps the most important of these is the risk to personal information and data. Smart devices take a large amount of personal data from mobile devices such as phones and tablets along with wearable technology such as Fitbits, and large devices such as smart TVs and fridges.
All of these devices are linked to their manufacturer’s network through the cloud and the internet. This connection between the device and its manufacturer is a potential weak spot when it comes to private data leaks.
It is perfectly possible for a hacker to compromise a smart TV or home device such as Alexa and then gain access to the audio that the device takes in – essentially eavesdropping on your everyday life. It is also possible that sensitive personal data such as financial information could be compromised.
While the technology manufacturers develop stronger, better monitoring protocols and safety measures, there are also a number of steps that consumers can take to protect themselves, their privacy, and their sensitive data. Consumers can protect themselves by always checking for updates and installing them, quickly disabling all unwanted features, and reading the terms and conditions (as much as possible) before purchasing a smart device.
Looking to the future
Smart technology is increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives – whether it is through digital technology, wearables or smart city applications. Although there are certainly valid privacy concerns, IoT and smart technology also offer a tremendous amount of hope and possibility. It is possible that smart technology will usher in a revolution of efficiency, sustainability and communication.