The Internet of Things (IoT) has changed the way we connect, monitor, collect data and so much more. As the IoT has expanded, morphed and IoT items became more available through lower price points, every generation from Baby Boomers onward have found their own use for these technological, internet-connected digital tools. Here's a look at how each generation uses the IoT and where it might take us in the future.
While Baby Boomers are often the butt of technological ineptitude jokes, more and more are living in smart home environments. Ambient Intelligence, in which everyday items such as washers, dryers, refrigerators, thermostats, etc, are equipped with Artificial Intelligence, has made the standard of living for many Baby Boomers. Ambient Intelligence is a blanket term for IoT devices like an automated medication reminder performed by a robot, though with a personality, which can decrease loneliness. Another example of Ambient Intelligence that benefits the Boomer generation is virtualized caregiver platforms.
Gen X could be the first generation to experience true IoT. As most technologies do, IoT first appeared in the workplace. At first, it was mostly used for operations management and predictive maintenance. Gen X's introduction to the IoT leaves little mystery for why many Gen Xers are so in-tune and excited about smartphone and smart home devices. For many of them, it is a simple continuation of what they first experienced when they entered the workforce. As Gen Xers grow older, they will likely seek out more IoT fitness devices, especially as they become more accurate.
While Millennials often seem tech-savvy, this generation is actually deceptive in its technology ownership, especially when it comes to IoT devices. Just last year, a study found 85 percent of Millennials did not own any IoT devices, mainly for two reasons: a lack of home ownership and concerns about privacy. As home costs rise, Millennials have been forced to rent much longer and more commonly than any generation before them. This doesn't lend itself well to in-home smart devices. However, there is one area where Millennials can utilize IoT devices without risk. The IoT has made it much easier for Millennials to take care of their Baby Boomer parents without being personally present all the time. Through wearable and internet-connected devices, 4k surveillance camera systems that can be checked with an app on a mobile device, Millennials can check in on their aging parents with a click of a button.
The relationship between Gen Z and the IoT is primarily friend and social-life oriented. Apps on mobile devices such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram play a huge role in Gen Zers' lives. However, unlike Millennials, Gen Zers also use personal assistants more often. Services such as Alexa, Cortana, and Siri are commonly used by Gen Z. Since many people who fall under the Gen Z range are in college, much of their experience with IoT is in the classroom. It isn't uncommon for every class to have some aspect of the course online, whether that's assignment turn-in, tracking, digital project or more.
Baby Boomers use the IoT for a better standard of living, while Gen X focuses more on the new and flashy mobile devices and fitness products. Millennials, despite appearances, are often distrustful of IoT devices, though do use many when it comes to the well being of their parents, while Gen Z is all about social interactions and the convenience of online aspects of education.