Seven Reasons You Should Care About the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things. IoT for short. Just think of it as the ability to use the Internet to connect, control, manage, and monitor anything that has an on/off switch. The implications are mind-boggling. But why should Extension care about IoT?

 IoT Thingful map 3

Thingful, a search engine for the Internet of Things provides a map of current Internet-connected objects around the world. (c) 2015 Umbrellium Ltd.

  1. It’s going to radically change the face of human activity, from driving cars to growing crops to managing our health. Billions of connections between machines and people will be directly tied to areas of life skills that Extension cares about.
  2. It’s estimated that by 2020, more than 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet—from toasters to heart monitors to cows in their pastures.
  3. The intersection of IoT and the Maker Movement will usher in radically new demands for skillsets in building Internet connected devices using tiny powerful computers like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi. 4-H kids are already building them.
  4. IoT will generate an entirely new set of ethical issues around Big Data and how we protect our privacy. Even WiFi-savvy Barbie dolls will be challenging our comfort level with connectivity.
  5. $4,500,000,000,000…yes, that’s 4.5 trillion dollars… is the projected amount that will be spent worldwide on the Internet of Things in the next 5 years. You can bet your bottom dollar that the business world is all over this.
  6. The Internet of Things is happening, and it will change our lives. Extension needs to be there. After all, we are all about having a positive impact on how folks live their lives, right?
  7. IoT will once again challenge Extension’s ability to adapt, but in a way that vastly overshadows any other innovative disruption to date—including the Internet. Will you be ready?

Jeff Hino is an eXtension Fellow conducting research on the Internet of Things and its potential impact on Cooperative Extension.