I had heard the expression: The Internet of Things. But it was just this week that I discovered I didn’t really understand what they were talking about. Not an uncommon problem for most people when it comes to technology!
Fortunately, you can go to Reliable Tech News where such enigmas are discussed, and be fully enlightened. Here’s a hint: Think not, the Internet of things. Think, the Internet of things.
This is decidedly an idea regarding all the things you encounter in the world every day. The Internet of Things basically is the recognition that we can gain helpful information by identifying and monitoring all things.
Currently the main source of information is people. But to look beyond people as a source of information and to develop digital connection to things would provide a new source of information. So the Internet of Things, or IoT in abbreviated form, focuses attention on all the things in our world that we use, enjoy, discover, create, sell, consume and depend on.
People are busy. They have limited time and attention. And, not infrequently, limited accuracy in passing on the information they discover or think they know. Which means they are not very good at capturing the data about things. Because there are so many things. Because it would take too much time. Because there are more important matters to pursue than a trillion things.
Kevin Ashton, British technology pioneer in a seminal 2009 article for the RFID Journal, “That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing,” gives a very helpful description as the one credited with the introduction of the term, if not the concept.
“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things – using data they gathered without any help from us – we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so .” (Source:Wikipedia)
Today, we have over 10 billion connected objects in the world and by 2020, this is predicted to rise to 50 billion. (LinkedIn article by Bernard Marr, October 23, 2013, What The Heck is… The Internet of Things?) Wikipedia says, “According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. According to ABI Research, more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. And if these huge numbers seem meaningless, try this infographic link visualizing in a most fascinating way how much data is added to the Internet by human users each second!
2020 is much closer than you think, if you’ve thought about it recently. And the application of the IoT concept is already in motion. There are buildings that sense and predict outside temperatures to adjust internal systems. Cars that drive themselves. Electricity and water grids that self-diagnose. Here’s a great one – an alarm clock which monitors your sleep and wakes you up at the right time so you don’t feel tired. Or the other side of that – your alarm adjusts your wake up time because it received information that your early morning appointment was cancelled overnight!
Three especially “geeky” ideas are briefly bulleted below. [This warning is for my non-tech readers. You may want to finish this fascinating report now, before reading these final bullets. Leave with a good taste. Avoid the heavy bullets below and jump to “Welcome…”]
- Cisco created a dynamic “connections counter” to track the estimated number of connected things from July 2013 until July 2020.
- The low-power radios connecting things to the data center do not need to use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Lower-power and lower-cost alternatives are being explored under the category of Chirp Networks.
- All of the sensors and machine-readable identifiers needed to make the Internet of Things a reality will have to use IPv6 (protocol of Internet numerical addressing) to accommodate the extremely large address space required. To a large extent, the Internet of Things may be the ultimate driver of global adoption of IPv6 in the coming years.
Welcome to the world of the Internet of Things!