Definition of IoT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity that enable these objects to connect and exchange data. The IoT promises to revolutionize the way we live and work by creating a more connected world where objects can communicate with each other and with us.
Case Examples of IoT
March, 2030! I got late brushing up a business presentation and almost missed my evening flight to Chicago! Thanks to my smart-car, that luckily came for the rescue! In collaboration with the smart highway, networked smart meters and a set of smart gadgets it found out the shortest possible and uncongested route to safely drop me in airport – on time.
In fact, life has become such pretty comfortable in the confines of energy efficient smart rooms that we are left to do nothing but work smartly with our brains and get late! Turn your head to the right and here you see smart operating rooms in hospitals which can sense the presence of unacceptable levels of bacteria and can take action in real time.
Turn your head to the left and there you see a smart kitchen – you no longer need to bother about stock of grocery and other food items, as the smart kitchen has already taken over the responsibility of managing the inventory like a pro. We are living in an age where we do not have to cook for ourselves.
The smart ovens do it all for us and even send alerts on our smart phones when the dinner is ready. We are living in a world where computers smaller than sand particles are sprayed like dust to analyze the condition of soil. Here embedded smart chips are dispersed across a city- thousands of those, to monitor all sorts of activities in each and every corner and to respond accordingly.
Can you digest all these? No, this is neither lifted from a sci-fi potboiler nor it’s a far-fetched idea. In fact, in the recently concluded CES, it was the theme- “The Internet of Things”.
Internet of Things? What’s that? We are used to Internet – the biggest invention the mankind has ever witnessed, but then, how does it connect things? For the uninitiated, here is an infographics that will put some light on this phenomenon! (Courtesy: Cisco IBSG)
The benefits of IoT
“The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. May be even more so.” quoted author James A. Michener and he was not off the mark in any sense. It has already caught the fancy of the technology world and sure is going to be the next big thing after the internet which the mankind will witness. It is going to reshape the medical technology and the manufacturing and the retail and everything you are associated with. Are you ready?
Simply put, Internet of Things will make everything smart, networked and connected. Now everything does not just mean your smartphones and body worn devices like watches or earphones. It means everyday objects you use, touch and feel like doors, clothes, key-rings, door locks, industrial machines, refrigerators, jackets, hats, chairs, vehicles and all other physical “things” – which will have embedded sensors to communicate information over wireless and wired networks to other smart “things”. And what will be more interesting is that all these things will happen even when you sleep – without any human intervention.
So you do not have to bother about the rose buds back at your home as the plant itself will keep them fresh by self-watering when they need it! Such is going to be the future – the convergence of internet and things is definitely shaping up in this direction.
Brands that are working in IoT
Will you be surprised tomorrow to see companies like Google, Intel, Cisco, IBM and lot of others are scrambling to consolidate their presence in the biggest ever business opportunity in the history of technology? Internet is driven by data and almost 90% of that is sourced from the users. We are already sharing personal information, likes, preferences, geo-locations etc. to numerous software and online applications including Google to get better user experience.
“Google and Nest have the potential to do great things together for users and consumers, but don’t expect that to happen without users giving up some more of their precious data to the search giant. All that remains to be seen is how that will happen, and what people get in exchange for that access.”
If this recent comment coming from Techcruch is any indication, you will not be surprised; rather you will witness the next industrial revolution!
For your information, Nest is associated with the business of making smart home devices like learning thermostats and smart smoke alarms, with the goal of creating conscious homes. It also collects a lot of data from the users. When there is smoke (read buzz) in the industry, that Google is going to acquire Nest, there has to be some fire! And that’s not all. GE has recently come up with the term Industrial Internet for giving direction to its ambitious drive in Internet of Things.
IBM has already made some headway in this direction with its thousands of programs in Smarter Planet category. Cisco is also not lagging behind. In his keynote address in CES, Cisco CEO John Chambers has said the Internet of Everything (his term) will be a whopping $19 trillion industry. He has also maintained “It will be bigger than anything that’s ever been done in high tech.”
Let’s guess Chambers is citing the cumulative economic impact by 2020! Regardless, it will not be any overstatement to say that the trend is so far reaching to be called the next big thing. It’s going to be even bigger than that! Just imagine, the world population in 2003 was 6.3 billion, out of which only 500 million possessed connected devices.
Presumably in 2020, the connected device population will grow to nearly 50 billion, leaving human population far behind at 7.6 billion. The IPv6 IP addressing is already rolling out and this is going to provide 52 thousand trillion trillion addresses per person by that time. Mind boggling! The cows, the shoes, the buildings and trees are all going to be on the same boat – no, we are not talking about the Noah’s Ark but something called the future of technology – the Internet of Things.
If you think all these are still in laboratories and papers, and doubt if there has been any real progress made so far, here goes a small graphic to open your eyes! (Courtesy: Cisco IBSG)
John Grantz of IDC forecasts 15 billion devices will be communicating over the network by 2015. We are almost there, rocking, partying and transmitting videos to any device in Norway or Nigeria. We are already witnessing the benefits of IoT in medical sciences. Isn’t it amazing when a tiny camera passed along the digestive system can transmit the tell-all pictures to connected devices? Isn’t it already a breakthrough in technology?
Just think of the unthinkable. In next few years, tiny Nano-sized devices are going to be placed in every corner of your country with a purpose of tracking weather, soil condition or the impending natural calamity – but on the flip side it will probably make life difficult for you to hide anywhere. Now you know whether it’s a bane of technology or a boon altogether!
Going back the trail of Internet and it was once funnily quoted, “The Internet: where men are men, women are men, and children are FBI agents.”Wonder what’s going be quoted next?
Back to the future! December, 2030. I was walking down an up market street in Osaka. Suddenly I noticed a billboard up there was displaying Ads based on my preferences – based on my geo-location the Ads were just scrolling past to entice me. Thanks GOOPS! (Oh did I tell you, Google had formed a new division long ago to focus on IoT business!)
Pros and Cons of IoT (Quick Summary)
There are many potential benefits of the IoT, such as improving efficiency, reducing costs, and increasing transparency. For example, imagine a city where all the traffic lights are connected to each other and can communicate in real-time to optimize traffic flow. This would reduce traffic congestion and improve safety. Or consider a hospital where all the medical devices are connected and can share patient data in real-time. This would allow for better coordination of care and improved patient safety.
However, there are also some potential risks associated with the IoT. For example, if data from connected devices is not properly secured, it could be accessed by hackers who could then use it for nefarious purposes. Additionally, as more and more devices are connected to the IoT, the risk of cyber attacks is likely to increase.