Internet of things (IoT)

The Internet of things is the new buzz-phrase in the world of IT.

 

What is this Internet of Things (IOT)?

It refers to the world of interconnected devices with embedded sensors which are capable of providing data that can be controlled and monitored across the Internet.

Is it something being conceived by the technology pundits for the distant future?  Not at all, The Internet of things is happening now, albeit at very subtle levels, however it has been cited that by 2020 – there will be over 26 billion connected devices.

Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other) and providing digital vitals to any physical object.  We are currently familiar with the Apple watches and Jawbone that deliver us live time data about our workouts and our heart rate.  The IoT has many various applications which can extend to incorporate almost everything in our lives.

How does the IoT work?

What is required is a “Thing” / object:  That you can give an identity to (IP address), it must be able to communicate with the internet, give it senses (sight / hear / taste / touch / smell), and it can be reached and controlled using an embedded sensor in it or on it.

The IoT is a giant network of connected “things” (which also includes people).  The relationship will be between people-people, people-things, and things-things.

What is the practical knowledge from the IoT?

It allows us to connect with things in a new way and enhances learning.  It will help us to monitor and observe (e.g. heart rate, temperature, Baby monitors) It can help to manage systems like tracking of traffic, safety and security).  We will be able to control many things remotely (switching on/off lights at home, activating alarm systems) and also can enhance the gaming experiences of future generations.

Because of the rapid growth in the IoT space, there are a number of competing tools, organizations hoping to define how connected devices communicate in the modern era. Open source and open standards will become increasingly important to ensure that devices are able to properly interconnect, as well as for the back end of processing the enormous volumes of big data that all of these devices will generate.

What are some applications IoT devices?

How you might make use of IoT connected devices depends on whether you’re more interested in automating actions or controlling objects (Lighting Fixtures, Air-conditioner, Home Appliances, and Security Systems).

Indoor and outdoor lighting and electrical outlets which can be controlled by sensors, timers, and remote applications. Thermostats and other devices to alter your indoor climate based on knowing where you are, outside temperature conditions, and what your energy savings goals are. Cameras, motion sensors, automatic locks, and other access control devices which can be integrated into advanced security and monitoring systems for Homes and Offices. Water leak sensors, smoke alarms, and other devices designed to protect people and property from accidental harm. Appliances like washers, dryers, refrigerators, and more which have special functions and can alert you to their status remotely.

Motor Vehicles are also increasingly in many ways themselves a sensor network, tracking dozens of types of information about their performance and safety, as well as providing new features and entertainment options.

For a government, company, or institution, IoT devices are a little different, and generally focus more on collecting data which can be processed and visualized, often in real-time. Some examples include: Utility companies are able to more accurately forecast energy and water demands, reducing waste. Advanced environmental sensors, include water, noise, and air quality monitors, can help understand pollution sources and effects before they negatively impact ecosystem and human health e.g. the Fuel Refineries. Companies charged with public safety can develop more advanced early warning systems for natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, and have better data with which to provide vital services like fighting fires and providing an early warning. Companies and governments can keep track of the current location of everything from vehicle fleets to parts and products, to health care specimens and medicines.

Wouldn’t it be great to wake up in the morning to your alarm which automatically signals your coffee machine to brew your daily morning fix immediately?  The potential is infinite.

As overwhelming this all may be, with its vast benefits comes the fears of privacy and safety and security.  As we embark into this new era of IoT, we can only hope that our fears are allayed by the leaders in technology.