In mid March, SmartThings, the Samsung-owned intelligent devices (IoT) platform, briefly experienced downtime that affected countless customer accounts and products. Households with SmartThings devices were not able to operate their locks, lights, garage doors, and more, turning these so-called “smart” devices into nothing more than “dumb” appliances.
Quick and decisive action on Samsung’s part brought the majority of devices back online within 24 hours. This incident, however, illustrates a potential risk that connected technologies and their consumers face in the future: the inability to use or operate an entire network of appliances and devices; when one goes down, they all goes down.
Remember, IoT not only includes “things” but also the “internet.”
Despite the high hopes for Internet of Things technologies, this incident serves as a reminder to tech companies and consumer alike of what might happen when all devices in a space are interconnected.
Promoting the Education of IoT Device User Experiences
This event should raise concerns for developers as well as users to step back, assess present systems and see what steps need to be taken to minimize the chance that such an event does not happen again.
The technologies that make up the present foundations of the Internet of Things are rapidly evolving and expanding; we’ve only scratched the surface to a field that will increase exponentially in the years to come. As new types of malfunctions occur in new forms of technologies, the need for more concise educational efforts and understanding in how to handle such situations becomes more and more necessary.
Although users of “smart” devices experience a new dimension of technology, these new experiences still require organizations to promote sources of digital literacy. It is not only the technologies themselves that users, both consumer and business alike, need to understand but also how these technologies consistently function together to produce the interconnected experiences of a “smart” world. Gone are the days of simply plugging in a toaster and pushing a button to work.
Taking Responsibility for the Data Within IoT Devices
Despite the uniqueness that interconnected “smart” devices offer currently, the real value of IoT lies in the data that it generates. It is the responsibility of the data scientists charged with the monitoring and maintenance processes of “smart” devices, to assess and improve upon the interactions generated between device(s) and its human users. Leveraging these interactions, data scientists working with product developers can use the data generated for better anomaly detection, predicting failures throughout the course of the useful life of a device. As a result, such predictions can offer ways in which systems can mitigate large ranges of issues (minor to major) without manual intervention, also known as digital self-healing. These initiatives start with evaluating and continuously managing the data associated with IoT systems.
In today’s era of ever-changing technologies, downed interconnected platforms such as Samsung’s SmartThings shows the immediate need for organizations to reinforce redundant systems and leverage the power of IoT data. More importantly this example shows how organizations have a duty to illustrate the full spectrum of usage within interconnected products which includes the heightened experience of “smart” interaction as well as limited use when the platform or internet is down. Organizations need to use this as a marker in order to curtail similar future episodes.