The Consumer Electronics Show this year saw the announcement of a number of great products, from smartphones to TVs. But the real winner of the show wasn't either of those things -- it was the Internet of Things.
Many, however, are a little concerned about the future of the Internet of Things, that world of interconnected devices that can communicate with one another, saying that it introduces new avenues for hackers to steal our personal information. A number of companies, though, are working toward making Internet of Things devices safer.
"New things are scary, without a doubt," said Keith Shank, director of Ericsson North America's Advanced Technology Labs. "We're working with [other companies] to create a truly secure back-end cloud concept. The cloud isn't just about storage, it's about making secure connections for everyone and everything around you. How do you find when people have breached it? How do you find what data they've breached? How do you keep that breach from happening again? We have to have the security, we have to have the knowledge of how to fix things. For people to trust new technology, they need to be able to know it's safe and secure for their use."
Samsung is one company that has been making a big push for Internet of Things devices. Samsung's idea is that almost every device that a user has as well as many products that aren't electronic, such as chairs, will be connected to each other and able to communicate. Within the home, this means that a user will be able to get home and have the music that they were listening to through their headphones automatically play through their speakers when they get inside.
Thankfully, Samsung, at least, has decided that Internet of Things devices will be open, meaning that devices from different companies will be able to communicate with each other and that users will not be locked into Samsung's ecosystem. This is a very big step for the company, and while it may mean making a surface-level business decision that could cost the company some money, it will also make connecting devices much easier for consumers.
This doesn't mean that everything will work seamlessly. While products from different companies will be able to speak to each other, that doesn't mean that they will be able to do this coherently.
A number of Internet of Things devices have managed to take off, namely the Nest Thermostat from Google, which is estimated to sell around 100,000 units per month. Despite the success of products like these, however, the success of the Internet of Things remains to be seen.