The Internet of Things Is Full of Motes, Domotics, and BANs

The connected IoT is spawning a new vocabulary

3 min read
Illustration by Luc Melanson
Illustration: Luc Melanson
What does it really mean to have all these devices connected to the Internet? Is there any real value involved? Just because you can, does it mean that you should?

—Matt Cicciari

Hang around the Web long enough and you’ll see more than your share of cartoons mocking the Internet of Things. (I refer, of course, to the collection of uniquely identifiable devices that are connected to the Internet and are capable of transmitting and receiving data over that connection.) “We have to go out for dinner,” runs one typical caption. “The refrigerator isn’t speaking to the stove.” It’s easy to poke fun at gadgets such as video-enabled toothbrushes and smart tampons, but don’t let these facepalm-worthy devices distract you from the serious side of IoT. Market research firm Gartner predicts that over 6 billion IoT nodes will be connected this year, while a report from DHL Trend Research and Cisco [PDF] Consulting Services puts the number at 15 billion. That’s a lot of “things,” and the only trend everyone can agree on is that these numbers are going to get bigger. The good news for language watchers is that as the IoT grows, so does the lingo surrounding it. A full glossary of IoT-related terms would fill a year’s worth of columns, so I’ll just spend the rest of this column looking at a few noteworthy coinages.

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How Police Exploited the Capitol Riot’s Digital Records

Forensic technology is powerful, but is it worth the privacy trade-offs?

11 min read
 Illustration of the silhouette of a person with upraised arm holding a cellphone in front of the U.S. Capitol building. Superimposed on the head is a green matrix, which represents data points used for facial recognition
Gabriel Zimmer

The group of well-dressed young men who gathered on the outskirts of Baltimore on the night of 5 January 2021 hardly looked like extremists. But the next day, prosecutors allege, they would all breach the United States Capitol during the deadly insurrection. Several would loot and destroy media equipment, and one would assault a policeman.

No strangers to protest, the men, members of the America First movement, diligently donned masks to obscure their faces. None boasted of their exploits on social media, and none of their friends or family would come forward to denounce them. But on 5 January, they made one piping hot, family-size mistake: They shared a pizza.

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