The topic of of this post is once again about how something within the scope of communications technology will impact our lives. This is a big one, and it cuts across a number existing and emerging communications technologies.
It’s a concept known as the Internet of Things (IOT). The IOT represents a huge evolutionary step for the Internet and can, no, WILL, change our lives in science fiction-like ways. The IOT is about inanimate things talking to each other over the Internet and taking action without human intervention, a concept known as M2M (machine to machine) communications. It’s also about a melding of the physical world and the virtual world. And it’s already in its fledgling stages of existence.
The Internet has long been described as a network of networks. The IOT can be described as a network of networks and things. Of course we humans are intertwined with both. For years we’ve been hearing how many millions, and then billions of people around the world have Internet access, and more recently, broadband access. Did you know, though, that we have already passed the point in time where there are more devices connected to the Internet than there are people on the planet? How many devices will we see connected eventually? That remains to be seen, but upon accounting for all the personal electronic devices such PCs, laptops, smartphones, tablets, gaming systems, televisions, etc., then tallying the estimates for connected power outlets, appliances, vending machines, trash cans, vehicles, streets, traffic lights, and so on, the number climbs to the tens of trillions.
So you can see how the Internet is evolving into the IOT. In order for the IOT to truly proliferate, though, a few more things still need to finish coming together. These things include:
- A way to uniquely identify all these devices
- Smart, low power, low cost sensors
- Embedded intelligence
- Automation and integration
Between IPv6, RFID, and open source M2M protocols under development, these requirements are being addressed. Wireless services, Cloud Computing and Storage will all certainly have big roles. Still in the center of it all will be the Internet. Just not your father’s Internet.
In the space left here I cannot begin to do justice to the mind boggling number of applications and implications of the IOT. Supply chains, traffic, and all kinds of movement will become much more efficient. So will the consumption of public utilities such as power and water. We’ll automatically know when something needs to be emptied, refilled, repaired, replaced, restocked, removed, etc. Cities will further evolve as embedded sensors, data storage and yes, cameras, could track, show, and record our every movement and activity. Privacy concerns will abound, yet arguably crime could be greatly diminished.
Where will all this lead? Who really knows? Perhaps one day we’ll have one or more sensors in our bodies monitoring and reporting on each of us. We then become a part of the IOT. To a certain extent, science fiction is becoming reality. Pretty cool to think about.
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Category : Industry Trends