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The majority rules heck, yes, on IoT and wearable tech

The future has arrived with the open-armed embrace of IoT and wearable tech. Also in Searchlight: Major announcements from FCC and NYT.

The futuristic gadgets of science fiction novels and feature films are no longer the wares of, well, fiction -- they're coming to a corner store near us.

To clarify: Flying cars and spaceships won't necessarily be a consumer commodity by 2025, but new findings from the Pew Research Center Internet Project suggest the Internet of things (IoT) and wearable tech will heavily influence the IT realm in the next 11 years. Of course, your toddler could likely have told you that without interviewing a single techie.

The Pew survey results, released Wednesday, were collected from 1,606 technology innovators, entrepreneurs, analysts and others in the IT realm over the course of two months. Among the questions posed to respondents online? "As billions of devices, artifacts and accessories are networked; will the Internet of Things have widespread and beneficial effects on the everyday lives of the public by 2025?" Most answered in the affirmative, according to the report.

Survey participants expect wearable tech and IoT to infiltrate all kinds of objects, including the human body, homes and communities, plus the goods and services industries. A small chip under your skin could replace the FitBit you wear on your wrist -- any time now. The technology is here; and so is yet another challenge for CIOs. The potential security risks of wearable tech were on full display in a recent SearchCIO wearables-themed tweet jam during which participants vigorously debated -- in 140 characters or less -- how these new sensorized technologies might create big data challenges, impact customer interactions and produce an analytics overload.

Pew defines IoT as, "A global, immersive, invisible, ambient networked computing environment built through the continued proliferation of smart sensors, cameras, software, databases and massive data centers in a world-spanning information fabric."

Previously on Searchlight

Protests before FCC net neutrality ruling

New Target CIO rebounds from breach

Translation: Get ready for another business disruptor in what's been a crazy few years of disruptive technologies. For some IT executives, the writing is already on the wall. James Madden, associate vice president of IT and enterprise architecture for American Family Insurance (AFI), acknowledges that the IoT connected car is disrupting his industry, putting the future of insurance -- and AFI's current business model -- in question. You can read all about it in our latest CIO Innovator profile. In other news this week:

  • Speculation about the net neutrality proposal drafted by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler ended Thursday, when the FCC approved rules that allow for paid priority on Internet. Cue the public protest.
  • Out goes Jill Abramson and in comes Dean Baquet as executive editor at The New York Times. Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr., publisher and chairman the paper, made this announcement Wednesday to a dumbfounded newsroom -- suggesting that "an issue with management in the newsroom" motivated the change. But we're not here to point you to newsroom politics or personalities. One of Baquet's biggest challenges, according to an internal study at the Times, will be making sure the paper does a better job at implementing a digital strategy. "The pace of change in our industry demands that we move faster," the report said.
  • Way back in December 2012, the FCC announced that AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile had signed off on a "text 911" plan. The program started rolling out in 2013, but a US-wide launch wasn't expected until May 15, 2014. Ok, so the program isn't available everywhere yet, but the FCC has proposed rules that would require all covered text providers to support text-to-911 by December 31, 2014. Nevertheless, even where text-to-911 is available, the FCC stressed that emergency callers, "continue to contact 911 by making a voice call if they can and use text only if voice is not a feasible or safe option."
  • Enough about the FCC. In security and hacktivism news, point-and-click steganography has made its way into 140-character tweets. Since the B.C. era, human society has used steganography to hide secret text, images, or messages inside another text, image, or message. Fast forward to the 21st century! This generator created by New Zealand-based developer Matthew Holloway brings steganography to the Twitter-sphere.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Emily McLaughlin, associate site editor.

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What is your biggest concern when it comes to the future of the Internet of Things?
I have two main concerns: security and privacy. Obviously the more connected devices we have, the more opportunities there are for malicious hacking of those devices. And I can't help but be concerned about the new ways that Internet companies will be in our homes and able to monitor our habits, even if just to sell us more stuff. 
Net neutrality (or lack of) is my biggest concern; followed closely by patient information security.

Consider that social networking (a prelude) can and is used by potential employers to gather background, untold interview information. I dont use FB or Twitter, but with TIoT, would I have a choice in the data that's collected versus my choice in not to post (as I'm doing now)?
Great question, rocrurocru. Can't see early adaptions of TIoT having much customization in terms of what data is collected. Ben, I share you concern with Internet companies invading our homes... they'll know so much about our habits.

Many consumers aren't necessarily worried about that though... they just want the new tech for convenience. 
A recent article in Wired addressed many of these issues - and also brings up the fact that some of these connected "things" may just end up being too complex. Instead of just being able to use our toasters and shoes, we'll have to figure out how they work all over again. 
A quote from Baquet that says a lot about where his priorities still lie: “The trick of running The New York Times is that you have to keep in mind that it is a very powerful print newspaper with a very appreciative audience. You have to protect that while you go out there and get more readers through other means.” Many inside the newsroom have called him an "old-school" guy, so you have to wonder what kind of team he'll put in place to address the digital strategy. (Original interview:
The concern is that hackers will continue to infiltrate various platforms and disrupt individuals' lives. This is not much different than today only that there will be many more connected devices creating more opportunities for hackers.
Good summary, jamfconsult - every device is a new opportunity (for good and for bad). That's been the case with pretty much every new technology that's come along.
I hope it will not create a new kind of segregation.
Already there are some signs.

For example, since grade 3 at my son's school those who didn't have their own tablets - and powerful enough, like iPad, were deprived of online education account and even agenda. There were no alternatives. But the school called those "optional" so you "don't have to" have them. If you don't mind that your child is called a loser. Well, we didn't want to, so our son was the first in the family to own iPad :)
agareev, this is an interesting comment, and yes, I tend to agree that there is a new "social capital" that has developed around technology an access to it. I was a little slow to toe party with my son, and I was a bit stubborn with the tech I let him have access to. Looking back, I think I may have held him back a year or two in potential advancement of skills because of it. I have since allowed my daughters more access to technology (he got to a point where he made the case for himself and got it via his grandparents ;) ), but yes, i do see that there is a new haves and haves not revolution brewing.