If you are like me, every time you buy a new piece of hardware (new phone, new TV), you stop and ponder for a moment when it asks, ‘will you share information on this device with the manufacturer to improve the product?’
I usually say yes, but I always wondered what they did with all those data.
Sometimes, the answer seems straightforward. Our TVs are connected primarily so we can stream content, but occasionally, I also get firmware updates via the same connection. Presumably, performance data from various sources, including data from connected devices, led to these modifications.
When I started thinking about it, lots of my devices are connected – TVs, phones, thermostats, lights, etc. And I am not alone. It is big business, with the supporting technology generally going under the name of the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is the network of physical devices or “things”, capable of receiving and/or transmitting data to the following:
a) Users in order to inform or receive instructions;
b) Manufacturers in order to provide performance data or receive updates; and
c) Other connected devices in order to control or receive inputs from them.
How big of a business is it? Estimates put the population of the world at about 7.2 billion. But even if every person in the world was on the Internet at one time, we would still be outnumbered almost 3.5 to 1 by the devices who are also online.
So, the next time your new TV asks to be attached to the Internet, just remember, they are collecting data, and they are connected…