WATCH ABOVE: The kitchen showcases devices that are part of the “Internet of Things”, which offers both convenience and risk. Peter Kim reports
TORONTO — Coffee that brews when your stress levels are high and a stove that will automatically text you when your meal is ready: these were the conveniences on display at Ryerson’s DMZ. The tech incubator showcased the latest devices that are part of the “Internet of Things” (IoT).
“As soon as I walk into the kitchen I want the fan to go live, based on air quality and other metrics, without touching any switches,” explains Hossein Rahnama, founder of Flybits and research director at the DMZ.
The kitchen also features blinds and lighting that automatically respond based on biometric data culled from smart watches.
The Internet of Things is a concept describing how real world items are connected to and controlled by online data.
“Basically the use of sensors and digital technology to take real world things and put them online,” said Matt Ratto professor in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. “To make things like refrigerators able to order milk, to make the thermostat in your house able to automatically regulate the temperature.”
“There are potential benefits, there are also a lot of down sides as well.”
Ratto is director of the Critical Making Lab and a leading authority in the area of internet-connected technology. He says the shear volume of data being harvested by companies can be misused — especially personal health information collected by smartwatches and fitness bands.
“Insurance companies might get access to your Fitbit data and make claims that they’re not liable for certain types of illnesses that are based on a lack of physical activity,” said Ratto.
There’s also the risk of hackers assuming control of your devices remotely.
“It can happen,” says Ratto, who added that the misuse of personal data is the bigger concern.
Sam Seo is an early adopter of IoT technology and has installed an encrypted VPN to ensure his network’s safety.
“I’ll actually control the temperature of my house,” said Seo. “It’s very convenient because I can control things when I’m not there and it also gives me peace of mind to know that things are working properly at home. Things are safe.”