I’m not sure how far the Internet of Things (IoT) has penetrated the general public, yet, but it is going to be the next “big thing”, I think. As a software developer I’ve been following how this is developing when I have free time. I have a couple of IoT boards and have written a few simple programs.
The IoT refers to the regular Internet, with thousands of little sensors plugged into it, broadcasting what it is they are “sensing”. For example, a weather system might have a temperature sensor in a remote location. Via the Internet, the weather station can send a message, asking what temperature that sensor is reading at the moment. There are various ways to control who has access to that data, or it may be open to the public. There are literally millions of these sensors out there today, and many times that will soon appear. They can tell you when your trash is full or turn lighting on and off automatically based on how dark it is. They can sense when it begins to rain, so the windows can be shut (automatically), etc.
I’ve never owned a washer and dryer (more on that another time), so I don’t know if you have already seen this yourself. My apartment building just installed new washers and dryers. There are instruction to go to a website if you want to monitor your laundry remotely. Sitting in my apartment, I can see the screen below from the Internet browser. Washer 1 is finished, washer 2 has 9 minutes left, and another washer and two dryers are available (the third dryer is finished).
Besides the convenience, this type of information in other situations could reduce travel, since one could get a lot of information via IoT that we currently get by driving somewhere. It could significantly reduce travel and storage space for industry, as inventory levels could be reduced by using IoT sensors to monitor supply levels and automatically order additional supplies.