You may recall that once, perhaps a few months or years ago, some fellow from the electric company wanted to put in a new meter. If this hasn’t happened to you yet, don’t hold your breath, but it could eventually. Either way, the electric companies have been installing Smart Meters for consumers, which measure energy usage as it is consumed rather than at the end of the month. The good news? No more meter readers making the dog go bananas. The bad news? Security is one of those things that nobody thinks about until a disaster (like flood insurance in the Sahara). For better or for worse, this is the first of many “smart home” advancements in technology worming their way into your life.
Smart Meters are designed to monitor energy usage to help consumers save energy, but privacy issues arise when people start noticing that the system could very easily catalog how you spend your day, whether or not you’re on vacation, and what sorts of devices you have in your home, which makes some rather crabby. Similarly, the Internet of Things is growing, and it is now possible to install anything from smart washing machines to power switches (the best thing about the switch is that you’ll never have to worry about whether you left the iron on. Again). Smart vents keep the house at a consistent temperature while smart kettles boil water without your presence in the kitchen.
Despite the occasional drawback, the Internet of Things promises to be one of the more interesting and effective results of technology’s progress. We’ll be maximizing efficiency more efficiently than ever before, and, supposing we get ourselves a smart coffee machine, a smart alarm clock, and a smart lighting system, we can do most of it before we get out of bed in the morning.