15 ways to explain the Internet of Things (IoT) to a five-year-old

Desktops

by Duncan MacRae| 10 July 2014

The definitive definition of IoT from the experts for the kids (and adults, too).

Eileen O'Mara, VP sales EMEA at salesforce.com

"Imagine if a car, a kettle and your toothbrush could all speak to you. The car could let you know that its tires need air, the kettle that the boiled water is cooling and you should hurry up and make that cup of tea before it gets too cold, and your toothbrush lets you know when you've brushed your teeth for two minutes as it's best to keep your teeth healthy.

"In the Internet of Things, the car, the kettle, your toothbrush and many other things become smart and get a voice. This means they can communicate with you even when you're not around, and you can control them remotely - all through an app on your phone."

Richard Holway, chairman of TechMarketView, (tested on my five-year-old Godson, Harry)

"Imagine if your cat went missing and you could find out exactly where it was. Imagine if your fridge could order your favourite juice from the supermarket rather than Mummy forgetting. Imagine if Daddy could warm up the car before you got in to go to school. Imagine if, when Grandma was ill, the doctor could be called immediately. Imagine if your toys could speak to one another. Imagine the 'Internet of Things'. Reality sooner than you think!"

Andrew Roughan, product and marketing director at Infinity SDC

"Talking to another person is usually interesting, we use facial expressions and gestures which help us convey our point so other people know what we want and how we feel.

"People are good as this because we have been doing it for a long time, but we're not very good at talking to inanimate objects, like toys, computers, or listening to machines that give us choices.

"We're really slow at doing this because things don't speak the same language as us. However, we have made computers and appliances become really smart, and clever people have made them talk to each other in a different language. These clever people have let the things that matter to us, like our home and computers in shops talk to each other, without us people getting in the way.

"We have put together a network called the 'Internet of Things', which connects all of the 'things' together so they can communicate. For example, imagine never having to wait for the oven to heat up to cook dinner, as Mummy and Daddy could turn it on using their mobile phone in the park."

Professor Amir Sharif, Acting Head of Brunel Business School

"The "Internet of Things" (IoT for short) is an exciting and developing idea that suggests you will no longer need to have a computer to access or be connected to the Internet.

"Science fiction is rapidly turning into fact. It is no longer a vision of the future. You can now really talk into your watch (or at least communicate through it) and use it as phone. The future is happening as we speak, and many companies are creating this for us. So things that aren't computers are already connected to the internet.

"Do you like running? Chances are your run is fuelled not only by music through your smartphone/MP3 player, but is also monitored for your heart rate, number of steps taken and calories burned. A combination of Apple i-devices (ipods and iphones of all varieties) and Nike's Fuel Band are existing IoT devices already.

"Do you wear a watch? Well, of course, now you can have a smart-watch which links with your phone so you can speak into your wrist to your friends. We have Samsung and their Samsung Gear gadgets to thank for that.

"Do you wear glasses? I think you can guess where this is going - yes, we now have the very cool Google Glass technology which overlays what you see through your eyes on the surface of the spectacles you wear, with internet-sourced information displayed in real time (which is known as 'Augmented' Reality, adding digital information to what you're seeing of actual things around you).

"Do you have a home and want to heat it? Imagine having the ability to not only control your own electricity consumption remotely, but to allow your own house to manage your energy usage and consumption. Technologies such as Nest provide this and many more "smart home" technologies including remote lighting.

"Wonderful gadgets, most of which are now beginning to display real utility and benefit to our daily lives. But the exciting part about IoT is not just where these connected 'things' are now and what they can do for us at present, but where this will take us.

"Scientists, technologists and businesses are rapidly considering a time when even wearable computers will become a thing of the past. Companies such as Intel have proposed that for an internet of things needs to completely invisible - you shouldn't have to even see or recognise an object as being connected to the internet. It will just naturally be connected and "on" all the time.

"So my advice is: enjoy your smart and Internet-connected devices while you can still see them. Eventually they might even be embedded within us - and we might become a 'thing' within the Internet as well."

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