Being a 21st century couch potato

Many of you may recall when, years ago, having Wi-Fi in your home was either a DIY project or an add-on service you paid for each month.

These days, however, the Internet Service Providers (or ISPs) like Spectrum, WOW or AT&T servicing Westlake and Bay Village may already have Wi-Fi capability built into their equipment and even turned on whether you use it or not. As long as it is protected to make it a “private” Wi-Fi, as opposed to an “open” or “public” Wi-Fi, you are ready to become a 21st century couch potato.

As it becomes increasingly common for each family member to own multiple digital world devices such as a computer, smartphone and tablet, and the only televisions you can buy these days are labeled as being “smart” anyways, having Wi-Fi capability provided through ISP equipment has become an expectation rather than an exception.

From SmartSpeakers to SmartToasters, collectively known as “Internet of Things” (or IoT), almost anything can be prefixed with the word “smart” … but what does it really mean? When a household electronic device/gadget is prefixed with the word “smart,” it simply means that it is connected to the internet, aka the cloud, to provide additional functionality and to be controlled.

A SmartTV, for example, can “stream,” i.e. receive programming transmission through the internet, on top of the traditional ways we can get programming (cable, satellite or over-the-air using an antenna). With streaming, instead of the whole family huddling around your laptop’s dinky 15-inch screen, you can play that funny YouTube clip on your 65-inch SmartTV for everyone to enjoy!

Giving verbal commands to your SmartSpeaker to unlock the front door when you hear junior’s school bus coming to a screeching stop in front of your house a la “Crankshaft” is another example of this IoT craze. In this example the SmartSpeaker works together with the SmartLock on the front door. This kind of integration falls under the SmartHome umbrella where every aspect of the house, from thermostat controlling the HVAC system to lighting in each room, can work in unison through the private Wi-Fi network of your home.

Unlike a classic couch potato wielding multiple remote controls 10 feet away from the dumb TV, a 21st century couch potato prefers using their smartphones or SmartSpeakers to become a maestro of their SmartHome – still from a couch or while on vacation halfway around the world. After all, the internet is borderless. Please be cognizant that SmartSpeakers, for example, are constantly listening for the verbal command. Read up on this continuously evolving landscape of privacy exposure and the ways to protect yourself.

As technology, legislation and corporate governance of how your private data is used become more pro-consumer, your options to minimize privacy exposure should evolve for the better too!

Tak Sato

Strategist and technologist with almost 30 years of experience in the private sector. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and Executive MBA from Cleveland State University.

As Founder of the Center for Aging in the Digital World, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit empowering seniors with digital literacy, Tak connects the dots to help people utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 11, Issue 21, Posted 9:23 AM, 11.05.2019