A strange question, to be sure, but can the Internet of Things help you cook chicken?
KFC Australia certainly seems to think so, with the fast food chain recently announcing that they are set to outfit their kitchens with a wide range of data-gathering devices to improve operational efficiency. But what is the IoT and how can it help both individuals and businesses reach their goals? Read on to find out!
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is a term used to describe the vast web of interconnected devices that have the ability to ‘communicate’ with each other. The word communicate is used loosely here — by it, we mean sharing data.
The rise of the Internet of Things — or IoT — has been facilitated by the development of tiny computer chips. Gone are the days of super large desktop computers slowly connecting to the internet via thick cables. Today, any type of electronic device can be hooked up to the world wide web wirelessly.
This has led to the development of a range of products designed to make our everyday lives easier. IoT devices are those that are commonly termed ‘smart’ — smart watches, smart hubs, and smart homes. The reason these devices are termed ‘smart’ is that they possess the capability to consume, share, and learn from our data.
IoT devices are loaded with sensors that are able to consume vast amounts of information. This can be used for a variety of purposes. For example, a driverless truck will rely on motion sensors to interpret the surrounding environment and any upcoming obstacles. On the other hand, IoT technology can also be used to create interactive, immersive gaming experiences. The very popular mobile app Pokemon Go used a combination of IoT and VR technologies with great success.
As you can see, the capabilities of IoT technology means it can be applied across a wide range of industries — including, as KFC announced recently, fast food!
Applications of the Internet of Things
As one of the world’s most popular fast food chains, KFC is always looking for ways to improve their products and services. In order to improve something, you have to understand how it works, which is where the Internet of Things enters the picture.
KFC Australia recently announced plans to outfit their kitchens with a range of tracking devices. These devices — which include temperature and garbage bin sensors — will collect valuable data that can help in-store managers make smart decisions regarding staff and rostering.
A garbage bin sensor, for example, can alert team members if the bin is getting too full or hasn’t been emptied within a specific time frame.
While these may seem like small, inconsequential actions, they can have a significant effect on the overall efficiency of a kitchen, particularly when operating in a frenetic, fast-food environment.
However, KFC and other similar companies would do well to remember that all types of data is valuable and should be protected — whether it is someone’s credit card number or the average temperature of a cooked piece of chicken.
Protecting your personal data in an interconnected world
Despite the numerous advantages offered by these emerging forms of technology, Internet of Things security remains a top concern for cybersecurity experts and everyday tech users.
Our personal data is valuable, a fact that we often take for granted. While we might provide our full name, date of birth, and contact information to any company that asks, it’s important to remember that there are people out there who don’t have the best of intentions. Hackers and cybercriminals are always looking for security vulnerabilities they can exploit to get their hands on personal information.
And once they have that information? They are likely to either use it for their own benefit (by opening credit card accounts and taking out loans in your name) or sell it on the dark web.
But what does this have to do with the Internet of Things? Well, the unfortunate reality is that the IoT manufacturer market is not very well relegated. While you may be able to trust larger tech companies, like Google and Apple, to securely store your data (whether you want them to have your data at all is another question!), smaller businesses who are focused only on making a profit may not be implementing the best security practices to safeguard your information. In fact, some of these companies may just be blindly selling your information onto third parties for advertising purposes.
And it’s not just individuals who should be concerned. The kind of data that KFC is collecting could be very valuable to their competitors and should be therefore safeguarded using the strongest security measures possible.
With this in mind, follow these tips to keep your personal data safe in an interconnected world:
Password protect everything: Many personal IoT devices require you to download an accompanying app and create an account. Be sure to protect this account with a strong, unique password and set up two-factor authentication wherever possible.
Use a strong encryption method for your home Wi-Fi: One way that hackers attempt to infiltrate devices is through a home router. Be sure that you set your router up with strong security measures, including the best encryption method possible.
Check device settings: If you’re introducing a new device into your home, it’s a good idea that you check the settings before connecting it to your Wi-Fi network. Make sure you understand what kind of data requires to function and that you know where that data is being stored.
Update your devices: Many device manufacturers release updates that are designed to patch security flaws and bugs. Be sure that you check for these updates regularly and download them as soon as they become available.
So, can the IoT help you cook chicken? Absolutely. Just make sure you fully understand what information it needs to help you complete this task and who else has access to your data. A streamlined life might be nice, but not at the cost of your personal privacy.
Author Bio: Bridget Black is a writer and editor, currently living in Melbourne. She is a copywriter for Newpath Web and loves working with words of all shapes and sizes. When not playing around with punctuation and grammar, she enjoys travelling and curating her Spotify playlists.