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Internet of Things and You: A Beginner’s Guide

Basically, The Internet of Things is how all of your connected devices talk to each other

I love The Internet of Things. You do, too, even if you don’t know exactly what it is yet. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t find a story about some awesome company creating some new awesome gadget that taps into The Internet of Things. Scrolling through these stories is like taking a peek at the world (and our homes!) three to five years down the line.

But, uh, what exactly is The Internet of Things? And why should you care?

Great questions! Let’s sort it all out.

What Is The Internet of Things?
Basically, The Internet of Things is how all of your connected devices talk to each other. Whether you’re talking about your smartphone and Bluetooth speakers or your Nest thermostat and Philips Hue light bulbs, The Internet of Things is an invisible network that links everything together.

The Internet of Things

Still having a hard time picturing it? Think about it like this. My iPhone can do all the things an iPhone can do. But it can also talk to…

  • My computer to control iTunes
  • My Apple TV to act like a remote
  • My Xbox One and PlayStation 4 to get info and re-arrange apps
  • My TiVo to change the channel and schedule recordings

Those are all very cool (and basic) things, and I’m probably missing a handful more. Your phone can do all that stuff, too. The Internet of Things takes that idea and amplifies it. Suddenly, with the right hardware, my phone can control…

My phone can also track information gathered by smart devices, like…

Not only that, these devices can talk to each other. IFTTT (if this, then that), coupled with The Internet of Things, opens up endless possibilities.  Suddenly, your thermostat can gauge where you are, and heat or cool your home before you arrive. Your lamp can track you, too, and let your friends or co-workers know how far away you are at any given time. Anything can talk to anything to do anything. And it’s awesome.

What’s Next?

A lot of companies are gearing up to become the “standard” for The Internet of Things. Google and Nest are trying to do it. Microsoft and Qualcomm are trying to do it. Wink is trying to do it. So is Homey. Marvell is getting ready. And they’re all gearing up because The Internet of Things is about to explode, as it’s expected to grow by three to four times in the next five years.

The only thing surrounding The Internet of Things that’s more prevalent than awesome possibilities is questions about its future. It’s a booming business, and one of the key points Shelly will be talking about at CES in January. But because it’s so new, and because so many companies are vying for market share, it’s a bit like the Wild West. That means it’s very exciting – and also (more than) a little scary.

Buckle up. This ride’s just getting started.

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More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of NBC Universal’s Live Digital with Shelly Palmer, a weekly half-hour television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.