You're driving home and you're stuck in traffic, it's been a long day and you're dying to get home and into a nice hot shower. You stop your vehicle on the side of the road and reach for your phone. With a few clicks, you connect to your home system, and instruct the house to prepare hot water, the air conditioner to start warming the house, the TV to look for a news channel and for the entrance lights to shine on the driveway.
After a few seconds of thought, you order the electric kettle to heat some water for coffee, and ask the fridge to order more milk from the closest supermarket. With a smile on your face, you return to the road, relaxed in knowing that a warm, lit and inviting home is waiting for you, with a hot shower to boot.
Much has been said about the advanced technology of our smartphones. What seemed like science fiction just 20 years ago, we can see coming into being right now - many of us carrt a device that can contact almost anyone else in the world, and not only talk, but also send photos, files and movies, make video chats, post things on a huge number of social networks, play advanced games, listen to music - and the list gets longer every ady, as the number of applications available to download and enhance these phones has long since passed a million.
So what is the next step in the evolution of the most popular electronic device? What does the future hold for our smartphones and the internet itself?
The future, agree most technology experts, is the 'Internet of Things'.
The internet of things is a simple title for a complex idea. This is a future where our phone and our computers will not only be used for communication, photography and games, but will actually start to CONTROL the other objects in our lives, from anywhere we desire.
When will all this happen? Much sooner than you think.
Many companies are investing right now in the internet of things, and cisco, one of the bigger communication and software companies in the world, predicts that by 2020, the market size of the internet of things will be worth about 14 trillion dollars, and no less than 50 billion (!) different devices, such as electronic devices, chips etc., will be also connected to the internet. This is a surprising forecast, especially as we're talking about a future a mere 7 years away.
Experts predict also a great boom in employment when the internet of things begins, which will employ millions of people in the development, installation and maintenance of this new technological system.
For example, Google announced recently that it is developing a new system called "Android@home" which will allow smartphone owners to control home appliances and systems through their phone.
The options are limitless. Not for nothing we spoke to you of a future where you instruct the house to make itself hospitable before you get there. You will be able to unlock the front door for guests who arrived before you, or lock it if you forgot before leaving, you can turn off lights and cut the electricity to appliances with the push of a button.
This may sound far-fetched, but most experts believe that the internet of things revolution is right around the corner, and in a decade, most if not all modern houses will be equipped with such systems.
This achievement is made possible because today we are able to develop computer chips so small, that they are no thicker than a few hair strands. These chips can attach to any appliance without disrupting it's functions, and their entire job is to receive instructions from you and pass them on to the device, they will be tiny and most importantly - cheap.
But the internet of things won't stop at the home. What about the farmers? They will be able to hydrate plantations from a far, from anywhere they are. Farmers will be able to 'implant' tiny chips in the soil which will transmit, in real time, information about toxicity levels in the soil and how ready it is for planting, saving them a lot of trial and error. Chips can alert to animal life that is doing harm to the plants, and will look for signs of bad bacteria and plant diseases affecting the crops.
However, despite the ease and comfort these developments will bestow on our daily lives, the most important functions will invariably be in the field of medicine.
An example situation: You've just undergone a difficult operation, and you have a lot of rehabilitation to get through. Before you leave the doctor tells you: "If something happens, call me immediately!"
But it isn't that simple to recognize dangerous signs, then get the doctor on the phone, explain what you think is happening, and then rush to the hospital. All this takes time you may not have, especially if you are suffering a cardiac event.
The internet of things may offer a better solution. During the operation, a tiny chip is injected into your body, to track signs of disease or a decline in your condition. When the chip identifies even the earliest warning signs, it updates the doctor in real time and even sends him specific information about your condition, so the doctor can make a quick decision, and maybe send you an ambulance without wasting time. Specific information is always better than trying to explain vague symptoms to the doctor. The chip can also alert your loved ones, and summon an ambulance itself if you are incapacitated and can't reach a phone.
But it doesn't stop at emergency care. We'll also be able to monitor our daily health. If you are willing to inject (almost microscopic) chips in your body, and download the right application to your phone, you'll be able to monitor your daily health, such as your blood pressure or your blood-sugar level. You'll be able to detect if you are missing important vitamins or other nutrients. The applications will offer your solutions to your problem and will update you when your body returns to optimal condition.
Other chips will alert you to possible diseases developing in your body, from tooth decay to cancer, which can definitely save your lives by early detection, as many forms of disease can be cured if detected early enough. Such ease in monitoring your health and what you lack can add years to your life, and by some experts - even decades.
But don't think only advantages lay ahead, each new technology also brings with it RISKS.
The biggest risk, say those who know, is a new form of terrorism that causes chaos, not with guns and bombs, but by hacking into the applications on our phones and causing devastation and misinformation. Some hackers will be able
to implant false information about our health, instruct chips to ignore diseases, order our car to stop in the middle of the highway or turn on all the appliances in the street and cause huge problems in the electrical system. Talented hackers may be able to track your location, which makes kidnapping and assassination much easier.
Another risk is over-reliance on the information we receive through these applications, until we ignore the natural signals coming from our bodies and minds. We must take into account that electronics do fail, the software or the chip may malfunction, and cause us to ignore real symptoms our body is trying to tell us about, with possibly tragic results.
Despite these risks, the internet of things opens the door to a huge and unlimited variety of options which may ease our lives, improve our productivity and most importantly - keep us healthier. The future is coming, and all that remains to be seen is what our lives will look like when we open the door to the internet of things.