January 30, 2017 Articles

The Internet of Things: "The Next Big Thing" for Products Litigation

By Samuel L. Felker

When people talk about "the next big thing," they're never thinking big enough. It's not a lack of imagination; it's a lack of observation. I've maintained that the future is always within sight, and you don't need to imagine what's already there. Case in point: The buzz surrounding the Internet of Things.

—Daniel Burrus, Burrus Research, "The Internet of Things Is Far Bigger Than Anyone Realizes," Wired.com.

It seems that everything with an on/off switch is now connected to the Internet or soon will be: our cars, door locks, fitness devices, security monitors, appliances, computers, phones, lights, cameras, etc. With a simple voice command, we can now dim the house lights, adjust the thermostat, turn on security alarms, activate cameras, and shut down the house for the night. Or, even more Jetson-esque, soon we will be able to purchase our favorite pair of sneakers and have them delivered by a drone to our front lawn within a matter of minutes. The Internet of Things (IoT)—the concept of connecting devices to the Internet and to each other—has quickly taken over our homes and our lives. But with these technological "advances" come increasing risks, and we all know inevitably there will be litigation. This article discusses the brave new world of the IoT across several product lines—home devices, automobiles, and medical devices—and explores what the future may hold for products liability lawyers.

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