I recently learned about the Internet of Things.
In the simplest form, the Internet of Things means putting RFID chips, or other tracking devices, into things so that they can communicate with computers and devices on their own.
According to the original definition on Wikipedia, this would be beneficial because “If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost.”
Imagine if this technology was used in groceries.
I could see how it could be really useful for a working Mom trying to keep a food budget for her family and trying to be efficient with her time. Imagine if a woman went grocery shopping armed with a list and a dollar amount she wanted to spend. The shopping cart could be equipped with a reader and when hen she got to the store she could upload her shopping list to the grocery cart computer. The cart could create a route for her to follow around the store that would take her from left to right, and past each item on her list. Then, as she put items into her cart, the item would check itself off of the list. She could navigate to another screen that would show her the cost of each item as well as a total for what is in her cart. In this way she could move through the grocery store efficiently, not have to look into the cart and visually everything was in there and know exactly how much she was going to pay when she reached the register.
I could see this technology being useful for me when it comes to food too. As I took items out of my fridge to eat them, it could register the calorie count of the food. In my imagination, the fridge would also have the ability to weigh an item if I put it back in (say, if I filled a glass with milk and put the carton back) and calculate the calories for the portion I ate. I could then view my calorie count for the day with a push of a button instead of having to track it with a notebook, calculator and scale. This would save me a lot of time and the calorie count would be more accurate than if I did it myself.
One of the controversies surrounding this application of technology is the lack of privacy. I have always said, where there is information, there are people who want at that information. I think in the same way big companies pay Facebook for data on its users, brands would want to know what you are putting in your fridge and your eating habits. Eventually, a person could start seeing individualized product and sale recommendations when they enter a store based on their eating habits at home.
I am not sure if this freaks me out or not. On one hand, I do find it a bit invasive. However, I spend a lot of time connected to networks so I don’t have any illusions that people and companies don’t already know more about me than I think…or at least have access to more information than I think. I have always lived my life as an open book anyway so I don’t feel frightened by this kind of exposure.
The bottom line for me is that I think it is an inevitable progression of an increasingly connected world and, I would argue, should be embraced to stay ahead of the societal curve.
How do you feel about the use of this technology?