Why the ‘Internet of Things’ is an outdated – and potentially damaging – term

Peter Veash, CEO, The BIO Agency

In October 1989, a Sunbeam Deluxe Automatic Radiant Control toaster was hooked up to the internet and unveiled at the Interop conference in Las Vegas. Nearly ten years after that, the term ‘Internet of Things’ was coined – and has been in widespread usage ever since.The term originated long before the concept of a world of truly connected products became a reality though, says Peter Veash, of The BIO Agency. Isn’t it time we shifted the language we use to describe this growing phenomenon?

While it’s true that ‘the internet’ is the channel that allows devices to communicate with one another, what most people really mean by ‘smart’ devices is their ability to gather and process data and educate themselves in order to make decisions and anticipate needs. For example, the internet-connected toaster could be switched on and off via the internet – which is certainly clever – but it still needed a human to put the pieces of bread inside it. A truly smart toaster would be able to sense if the bread had run out, and order a fresh delivery for the time its owner usually gets home – checking their diary just in case.

Recent studies suggest that consumer understanding of the much-feted ‘Internet of Things’ is, at best, patchy. For many of the uninitiated, it conjures up images of that running joke among techies, the dreaded and much-mocked ‘Smart Fridge’. And yet a PwC study shows that the average UK household now owns an average of 7.4 connected devices, including home heating management systems like Hive and Nest. People are embracing voice-activated personal assistants like Cortana and Siri, and wearing fitness monitors like Jawbone and Fitbit.

So, in effect, most of the UK is already using the Internet of Things – whilst simultaneously not really knowing what the term actually means. This disconnect between the way people are using smart devices and the comparatively poor understanding those same people have of the terms the industry uses to describe them is a problem, and it’s about more than just semantics.

image001In The BIO Agency’s recent study of the UK public’s perception of the idea of smart or connected products, the majority of people agreed with the idea that a connected product could be defined as ‘a digital product or piece of technology that is ‘smart’ and knows who I am or what I want’. Furthermore, ‘smart’ objects can gather and process data, and learn on the job while they are being used by people – but the ‘internet’ is just a passive channel over which devices can communicate.

This is why we believe the term is well overdue a rebrand; ‘Internet of Things’ doesn’t describe the true scale of the revolution that is in the air; objects are now beginning to speak to each other, and their language is data. The phrase just doesn’t encompass the vast transformative potential these kinds of products have for industries like energy conservation, healthcare and mobility. If we are to raise consciousness of the great things we could achieve in a truly connected society, the first thing we need to do is give it a new name.

The author is Peter Veash, CEO at digital transformation specialist The BIO Agency.

Comment on this article below or via Twitter: @IoTNow_ OR @jcIoTnow

RECENT ARTICLES

Garmin Enduro 2 ultraperformance smartwatch adds mapping, touchscreen and its longest-ever battery life

Posted on: August 11, 2022

Olathe, United States. 09 August, 2022 – Garmin International, Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd., announced the Enduro-2 ultraperformance multisport GPS smartwatch. Purpose built for endurance athletes, the rugged yet lightweight Enduro 2 includes built-in TopoActive maps with multicontinent coverage, a superbright LED flashlight and Garmin’s exclusive SatIQ technology to help optimise battery performance. What’s more, enhanced

Read more

Newly upgraded FineShare FineCam! A smart virtual camera makes video production easier

Posted on: August 11, 2022

Los Angeles, United States. 08 August, 2022 – FineShare Co., Ltd. announced the latest version of FineShare FineCam – an AI-powered virtual camera software. To meet the expectations of customers, FineShare FineCam now is available for Mac and rolls out some brand new features including advanced adjustment, webcam overlay, branding templates, low light video booster, auto framing, etc.

Read more
FEATURED IoT STORIES

9 IoT applications that will change everything

Posted on: September 1, 2021

Whether you are a future-minded CEO, tech-driven CEO or IT leader, you’ve come across the term IoT before. It’s often used alongside superlatives regarding how it will revolutionize the way you work, play, and live. But is it just another buzzword, or is it the as-promised technological holy grail? The truth is that Internet of

Read more

Which IoT Platform 2021? IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide

Posted on: August 30, 2021

There are several different parts in a complete IoT solution, all of which must work together to get the result needed, write IoT Now Enterprise Buyers’ Guide – Which IoT Platform 2021? authors Robin Duke-Woolley, the CEO and Bill Ingle, a senior analyst, at Beecham Research. Figure 1 shows these parts and, although not all

Read more

CAT-M1 vs NB-IoT – examining the real differences

Posted on: June 21, 2021

As industry players look to provide the next generation of IoT connectivity, two different standards have emerged under release 13 of 3GPP – CAT-M1 and NB-IoT.

Read more

IoT and home automation: What does the future hold?

Posted on: June 10, 2020

Once a dream, home automation using iot is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives around the world. In fact, it is believed that the global market for smart home automation will reach $40 billion by 2020.

Read more

5 challenges still facing the Internet of Things

Posted on: June 3, 2020

The Internet of Things (IoT) has quickly become a huge part of how people live, communicate and do business. All around the world, web-enabled devices are turning our world into a more switched-on place to live.

Read more

What is IoT?

Posted on: July 7, 2019

What is IoT Data as a new oil IoT connectivity What is IoT video So what’s IoT? The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is officially everywhere. It constantly shows up in my Google news feed, the weekend tech supplements are waxing lyrical about it and the volume of marketing emails I receive advertising ‘smart, connected

Read more
IoT Newsletter

Join the IoT Now online community for FREE, to receive: Exclusive offers for entry to all the IoT events that matter, round the world

Free access to a huge selection of the latest IoT analyst reports and industry whitepapers

The latest IoT news, as it breaks, to your inbox