Have you dreamed of having a smart home? Once you walk into your living room, the room identifies you and prepares everything from air conditioning to lightening for you according to a cloud-based profile of your preferences. Have a tiring day at work? The room knows it, and starts to play some soothing classical music to help you get relaxed. When you walk to the refrigerator, it not only tells you what are in it, but also tells you what's the perfect meal you can make with the stuff that you already have based on your mood and maybe even you weight loss plan.
Maybe you have only read such things in science fictions, but they're now either already possible or on the brink of coming into being. Smart homes filled with connected products are loaded with possibilities to make our life easier, more convenient, and more comfortable. And all of these are based on what is called the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming an increasingly hot topic all around the world. It's a concept that has the potential to affect not only how we live but also how we work. But what exactly is IoT and what impact is it going to have on us?
Simply put, the IoT is a giant network of connected "things" (which also includes people). It's estimated that there will be 50 billion objects connected to the Internet by the year 2020. That means on average, each person will have six objects connected to the Internet. We are talking about a world blanketed with billions of sensors which can acquire real-time information from the physical objects in the real world and upload it to the Internet.
IoT can not only benefit our daily life, but also improve efficiency, productivity, and safety within the workplace. For example, if a machine in a factory goes down, connected sensors can immediately determine where the problem is occurring and trigger a repair request to an engineer. The IoT can also predict when a machine's life cycle is about to end, which takes a preventive maintenance approach to the next level by saving facility owners thousands of dollars on unwarranted repairs or replacements.
On a broader scale, the IoT can also pave the way for a future of smart cities and affect almost everything in cities from lighting, parking, traffic and waste management to citizen engagement, safety and security. For example, sensors in city infrastructure can collect and exchange traffic data, and thus reduce road congestion and even avoid traffic accidents.
The IoT certainly opens the door to numerous opportunities but also to many challenges. Security is a big issue that is usually brought up. With billions of devices being connected together, what can people do to make sure that their information stays secure? Will someone be able to hack into your coffee maker and thereby get access to your entire network? Another issue that many companies are concerned about is how to deal with the massive amounts of data that all of these connected devices are going to produce. They have a long way to go to figure out a way to store, track, analyze and make good use of the vast amounts of data that will be generated.
on the brink of 濒临；临近
blanket v. 覆盖
pave the way for 为……铺平道路
hack into 非法侵入（计算机系统）