Spinning the wonderful World Wide Web wider

One of the latest trends in electronics is the Internet of Things. Internet of Things is all about expanding the use of the Internet beyond human to computer interaction. Instead, the Internet of Things sees the Internet as a method of better connecting people to the world around them. With the rise of cloud computing, this is becoming increasingly possible. Many devices have already started adding Internet connectivity but is it really for the better?

Some of the main applications for increased connectivity are already available. These include smart TVs and smartwatches. The promise of such devices is that the increased connectivity gives you enhanced performance and extra convenience at the cost of a higher price tag.

Smart televisions are essentially your typical TV with additional computing components built in. Many Americans are no longer subscribing to cable services, and instead use internet streaming for their entertainment needs. Most smart TVs support Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube among other services, but they still cannot handle as wide of a variety of tasks as a smartphone can. Smart TVs also don’t have anything close to the strength of an actual computer. Because of this, it is actually more practical and cost effective to buy an extra device that gives your existing television the features a smart TV would have in addition to others. Such devices include AppleTV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick, or even your gaming consoles. Supplementing your television with one of the above devices is both more cost effective than purchasing a smart TV and more versatile.

Wearables are another large focus in adding connectivity. In just the past couple of years, the market has become filled with a wide assortment of wearable technology that is meant to bring us closer to the Internet. The Pebble smartwatch, Google Glass, Android Wear devices, and fitness trackers such as the Fitbit Surge are currently available. The Apple Watch and Microsoft’s HoloLens are wearables that have been announced but not yet released. Unlike smart TVs, I feel that wearables actually add something significant. The benefit of wearables is that you can always have them just as you would your smartphone. Some wearables offer information at a glance, while others offer a completely new way to interact with the world around us.

Smart TVs and wearables are not the only devices to enter the Internet of Things. There are even lightbulbs, such as LIFX and Hue from Phillips. Wemo offers an assortment of devices that connect to your other devices for both automation and notifications. There are smart washing machines and dryers as well. These devices aren’t meant for everyone, because there honestly is not much of a need. However, some people may be overwhelmed with joy at the realization that they can receive an email when it’s time to start a new load of laundry.

As a fan of automation, I think the more internet-connected devices we have access to, the better. However, the major factor is price point. If companies are charging a premium for internet connectivity as seen with most smart TVs, the Internet of Things will never catch on. Connectivity needs to be a feature as opposed to a selling point.

Myron Jones
Technology Columnist

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