By Lauren keyson

We’re just a few days away from our panel on Artificial Intelligence and The Internet of Things, “Disruptive Technologists Upends IoT Using AI: Smart Homes, Cities & Governments”. Ahead of Monday’s big event, we wanted to give you a taste of some of the topics we’ll be discussing with our panelists.

If the term IoT doesn’t bring up an instant reflex of what it means, you are already missing out on the biggest tech wave. Being a buzzword as heated as AI, the Internet of Things is constantly changing society and our lives by making the world more interconnected than we ever imagined. It changes the way we converse, commute and contemplate. The continuous improvement was first adopted by businesses to upgrade their commercial models, now expanding to individuals’ lives and even city management. Smart urban planning using IoT technologies is expected to tackle issues like traffic congestion, pollution, and energy saving.

IoT (or “internet of things”) is going to be at the heart of the discussion on Monday, so let’s get a working definition:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals, or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”

A lot of people have joked about internet-connected toasters, but with the runaway success of the Amazon Dot, that laughter is slowly turning into certainty that IoT will be the new big thing.

According to John Edgar, the co-founder of the tech company STAE (which stands for “Symbiotic Technology And Ecology”):

“I think the ability to create efficiency gains across all industries is one of the more interesting applications [of IoT]. However, health and wellness is probably one of the more important areas, with companies like Apple making huge strides in preventative health and Nokia becoming the 2018 version of Braun.”

One of the major issues haunting IoT, however, is the specter of hackers. No one wants cybercriminals breaching their network-connected home and locking them out, or worse, taking control of a self-driving car full of passengers. According to Nick Adams, co-founder and managing partner of Differential Ventures:

“Privacy and security have always been an issue and will always be an issue. Naturally, we need to ensure that companies are using the latest and greatest technology and best practices to protect the data but I compare security to the steroid testing market; the new drugs are always going to be 1-2 years ahead of the testing for the ‘new stuff.’ In a lot of ways, security is always playing catch-up to the latest threats.”

Mark Clifton, CEO of Princeton Identity, says authentication technology is going to be key:

“Imagine that as you enter your home you use authentication to personalize all of your devices to you, from your television channels, your lighting, your AC or heat,” Clifton says. “…authentication is critical as the first layer of cyber security. You want to make sure that you know [who] is accessing your home systems.”

There’s been an explosion of interest in IoT tech recently, but unfortunately a lot of it falls into the same category as the aforementioned “smart toaster.” According to Clifton, “There are some great applications for smart appliances. There are also some not-so-great applications.” Clifton notes that smart refrigerators, for example, may become “the TV, music center, [and] thermostat” for foodies who live in their kitchen. As for smart socks…maybe not so smart.

On the other hand, Aaron Price, CEO of Propelify (which hosts one of the largest tech meetups in the world), says we’re living in a time when people are obsessed with new technology—but specifically the “newness” of it. He’s more interested in IoT tech that’s helpful, practical, and has an impact on the “human good,” but most of all he’s excited by technology that complements human behavior, rather than distracting us—he mentions voice-controlled and mobile-phone-based tech as two fields that have the potential to do good.

Looking at the big picture, John Edgar remarks:

“IoT is only interesting in the context of both a platform and an ecosystem, so if it’s trend-spotting, job-hunting or looking for new IT solutions, keeping a sharp focus on products and services that have a tie-in to a strong platform that has a budding (hopefully open) ecosystem around it is gucci.”

This is just a small window into our panelists’ brains—we’ll be exploring much more in our free-ranging discussion on Monday, which will also include panelists Bruce Weed and Nick Adams.

See you there!

Lauren