IoT for IT

Alternate Reality

Wearable Computers

The sporting goods industry has recognized this new trend and introduced "wearables" (devices equipped with sensors that can be worn on the body to measure vital signs, such as pulse, skin resistance, heart rate), presumably to improve the training success of amateur and professional athletes; however, the underlying vital statistics are still out there somewhere on the web. Moreover, control over who has access to or receives the data lacks transparency, which urgently needs to be introduced in the current phase.

The health sector pursues similar interests, with plans to equip patients with sensors to respond more quickly in an emergency and save lives (smart healthcare).

Privacy, Security, and Learning

Privacy is a fundamental concern for most citizens in developed countries, with different degrees of weighting depending on the country. The movement toward smart cities and countries, with massive numbers of sensors and image recognition software, for example, can perform tasks such as automatic toll collection, but you have no assurance that after you and your vehicle are detected and identified, this data is not then correlated with other information available online, such as Twitter or Facebook. This capability is already available in many countries in photo apps like Google Photos. Although a positive aspect would be the ability to track runaway offenders, it would be at the cost of our own privacy.

The situation is similar when it comes to utility companies, which can admittedly gather many useful metrics with smart metering – as well as too much information. On the downside, if measurement intervals are short, a utility can tell what household watched which TV channel and at what time [6]; moreover, data collected is often transmitted across the smart grid to headquarters without encryption.

The auto industry is already more aware of these security issues than others, but even here there is a need for action, because the ability to hack cars over wireless connections has been demonstrated [7].

Politics has another central challenge to deal with: providing a meaningful digital agenda. A clear line is desirable that promotes corporate economic objectives while ensuring that individuals are protected against arbitrary access by third parties. Another political challenge is ensuring that society is not divided into two classes: those that can afford connected digital devices and have the knowledge to deal with them and those that cannot (digital divide).

Don't forget education, which could also benefit from IoE technologies. The use of multimedia technologies, such as smart boards, tablets, and embedded video conferences with experts for each subject will help improve the learning experiences of students. Evidence that the use of "gamification" techniques, which often embrace the massively multiplayer gaming framework, support or improve learning success in classrooms has been questioned but is gaining ground [8]-[10].


The ongoing digitization of our world is certainly a mega market of interest to economists and virtually every industry that is trying to stake its claim. Currently, development is still in its infancy, and we have challenges to overcome to keep IoE from becoming a self-built jail. These challenges do not lie in solving technical problems, but rather in data protection and privacy, political priorities and legislation, and the ability of our society to adjust with the required speed to the new digital paradigm.

Undoubtedly IoE will, in the coming years, be the booming market for the IT industry, with a huge amount of potential, as well as hurdles to overcome. The first step is to create a policy framework that empowers society to leverage the potential of new technologies, while protecting the privacy of individuals and helping society as a whole take part in this development. Development is already many times faster than was possible in the 1990s during the first wave of the Internet.

Experience in IT innovation is missing in many places, and the current management processes in politics fail to keep pace with the speed of technological innovation. This leads to two possible scenarios: Politics either inevitably lags behind and quasi-governs in the wake of laws, or innovative policies avoid interfering in the implementation of technical opportunities.

Neither variant exactly fosters trust. Individuals have to be aware that IoE is not primarily about technical innovation in the sense of improving our life experience by means of small helpers (e.g., home robots that sweep the floor or serve breakfast); rather, the aim is to make people more transparent so that products can be tailored to each individual. Loss of privacy is the price paid.

It is still unclear whether a society that discloses its life to all others at every conceivable moment through monitoring can continue to be innovative in the future, primarily because innovation often happens by mistake – just think of the discovery of penicillin.

Will citizens of a future society still dare to make mistakes when they are under constant surveillance and potentially risk being sanctioned for each step beyond the boundaries of accepted behavior? If you are issued a ticket automatically by a traffic surveillance drone for running a red light, your willingness to make another, more important mistake at some other point will probably be relatively small. This is a question for social scientists.

Finally, a point that I have not even addressed is how much energy IoE would need to operate all of its sensors, actuators, drones, robots, and huge data centers, and where do we get it? Industry and academics have more than enough issues to consider that we do not have answers for today. Thus, we can look forward with interest to everything to come.


  1. "The Computer for the Twenty-First Century" by Mark Weiser, 1991,
  2. Internet world stats:
  3. "The Triumph of Email" by Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic , January 6, 2016,
  4. "John Chambers last keynote as CEO of CISCO," Cisco Live 2015, San Diego, CA, (timeline 28:00)
  5. Cisco-Kansas City agreement:
  6. Greveler, U., B. Justus, and D. Loehr. Multimedia content identification through smart meter power usage profiles. Computer Security Lab, Münster University of Applied Sciences, Steinfurt, Germany, 2010:
  7. Hacking a Jeep:
  8. Kiili, Kristian. Digital game-based learning: Towards an experiential gaming model. The Internet and Higher Education . 2005;8(1):13-24,
  9. Klopfer, Eric, Scot Osterweil, Katie Salen, and others. Moving learning games forward: Obstacles, opportunities, and openness. Appendix A. An Education Arcade paper, 2009. Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
  10. Jane McGonigal on using games in education. 2011 Microsoft Innovative Education Forum:

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