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June 20, 2016
Jason I. Epstein , Will Gibbs

In 1990, Internet pioneer John Romkey connected a Sunbeam toaster to the Internet for a demonstration at the Interop Internet networking trade fair.1 The toaster could be turned on and off by sending commands over the Internet.2 Romkey’s demonstration is an early example of the “Internet of Things,” or “IoT.” Experts now predict that IoT-related sensors and devices will reach 50 billion by 2020.3 The explosion of IoT products, software and services creates interdependent and rapidly evolving IoT “ecosystems”4 (“IoT Ecoystems”) that include exciting benefits and potential risks.

Devices have been connecting to each other for quite some time. The surge of consumer IoT Ecosystems, however, has resulted in a greater focus on IoT's benefits and risks, including interoperability, security, privacy, and data management. This article explores four common IoT “use cases” to demonstrate some of the benefits and risks in our homes and in the retail, healthcare and auto industries. We then distill current government, industry and legal analysis into principles and recommendations for businesses to consider when selling, buying or otherwise using IoT Ecoystems.

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