Privacy vs convenience: The Internet of Things

You wake up in the morning to the gentle ping from your smart watch at the ideal time during your sleep cycle. The smart watch is also telling you that if you want to wake up with your usual glass of orange juice tomorrow, you need to go to the store today. It’s also telling you that the milk you’ve got is still good for another two days.

How would your watch know this? It’s linked to your refrigerator that can tell what’s in it and how much you have left. It also tells you which stores nearby are having a sale on orange juice.

Before you get up and shuffle your way into the kitchen for that orange juice, a sensor in your living room has already kicked on the heat – it knows your sleep patterns, and once you leave the house to head to work, it turns off the heat – saving energy and money.

And once you come back home, you unlock your house by pressing your hand to a panel that can read your palm print or the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that’s been embedded in your skin.

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This is the theoretical future of our world – it’s called the Internet of Things. Items will have a digital presence built in with things like RFID tags, like barcodes, and wireless connection. You’ll be surrounded by and part of a digital ecosystem.

Sounds magical and wonderful and sci-fi awesome? It is. The potential upside is huge with getting everything connected and theoretically streamlining your life in ways you hadn’t imagined possible.

It’s already happening. In Sweden this year, one company’s office employees have had rice sized RFID chips implanted that allow them to wave their hands to get access to the building and to use machines like the copier. Think of all the passwords you can forget. And you’ll never be locked out again.

But think through security and privacy ramifications before you jump on board. If your habits online and on your phone are being tracked in today’s world, think of the information that will be out there if everything is connected.

Let someone else be the guinea pig for the connectivity experiments, and invest when the kinks have been worked out and you know your privacy will be secure.

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