5 Billion Reasons Why Internet of Things is the Future

In April, Microsoft announced an investment of $5 billion dollars in the Internet of Things over the next five years. What exactly does “Internet of Things” mean?

As access to broadband widens, more appliances are equipped with sensors, wifi capabilities, and other advancements capable of communicating and exchanging data. The move from individual “smart appliances” to expanding interoperable “smart networks” is the Internet of Things (or IoT for short.)

Imagine a house where a ringing alarm clock triggers coffee to brew; then that loads your day’s tasks from your iPhone onto a touch-screen calendar fixed on the refrigerator door. Proponents of IoT design networks of appliances that can facilitate day-to-day conveniences are like a digital Rube Goldberg machine. Soon, “smart homes” will no longer just belong to wealthy tech lovers. They’ll become a standard of first-world living. The Miami-based company Lennar Corp., for instance, is already teaming up with Amazon to get Alexa into every home.

1931 cartoon featuring Professor Butts and his Rube Goldberg machine (IoT?): the Self-Operating Napkin
1931 cartoon featuring Professor Butts and his Rube Goldberg machine (IoT?)

Get Smart

Thinking beyond the daily personal conveniences of IoT, teams of developers, governments, and policy wonks are proposing “smart cities.” These cities will use IoT on a large scale to create safer and more efficient ways to share our world. The Alaska Department of Transportation has already designed “smart roadways” with Fathym that can alert drivers to dangerous weather.

As companies like Chevron, Steelcase, and Kohler develop more interconnected devices, Microsoft’s investment in IoT development is a classic move. Government agencies eager to catch up with these innovations also need powerhouses like Microsoft to alleviate the potential security issues of a world humming with IoT.

Worlds Ahead

In true “Worlds Ahead” fashion, FIU is leading the way in South Florida. The FIU College of Engineering and Computing now offers a unique degree program in the Internet of Things. The program promises students the skills they need to land technology jobs at various Florida companies or at places like Amazon, Intel, and Microsoft. Graduates of FIU’s Internet of Things program can join or potentially launch startups in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale’s emerging tech scenes, too.

With such a network of “things” in place––IoT graduates, local tech, and corporate investment–– it won’t be long before these graduates power up one smart South Florida.

Michael A. Martin is an instructional designer and writer for the Continuing and Professional Education team at FIU Online. He is also an adjunct lecturer in Writing and Rhetoric at FIU.

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