Have you ever imagined your car door opening automatically as soon as you arrive at its door? How it would be when your phone can control your entire home based on your personal preferences? Were you ever fascinated by Sci-fi movies where the hero would just blink his eye and his car would appear before him? Imagine your smart phone charging itself when it identifies a WiFi hotspot or free of charging hubs using signal strengths? Imagine long term care centers where elderly patients are monitored ubiquitously through body movements and sensory reactions!
This was all considered fiction in the past, but cut to the present and this is all possible because of a vision called the Internet of Things.
IoT is an extension to the current Internet that enables connections and communication among many physical devices. It was first proposed in early 1991, but it only took prominence in recent years because of advancement in hardware and software technologies especially in sensor technologies. The hype surrounding IoT is justified because of the new tools/technologies available to build smarter environments.
According to the website, Internet of Things Architecture (http://www.iot-a.eu/public), "The idea of a globally interconnected continuum of devices, objects and things in general emerged with the RFID technology and machine learning, and this concept has considerably been extended to the current vision that envisages a plethora of heterogeneous objects interacting with the physical environment."
Earlier, when the terms above were spoken in the same breadth, it was very difficult to envision the possible benefits of IoT, but the benefits of the emerging new technologies and devices is finding many takers in both commercial and the research world, for everything right from disaster management to supply chain efficiencies, with Google, Microsoft and many other companies making huge bets to turn this vision into a reality and also make it available for common users to enjoy its benefits.
Elements that constitute the Internet of Things that make our environments look smart are Mobile Computing device elements, intelligent service elements, intelligent human computer interaction elements. All these elements collaborate in an infrastructure that offers seamless connectivity to devices/entities/services, support placement and location unique to identifiable devices/entities within a userÃ¢??s environment, thus able to be aware of users context.
Central to the Internet of Things Architecture and design are interoperability, compatibility, load balancing, consistency, bandwidth optimization, minimization of information storage and retrieval delay while keeping the cost low, provision for two or more levels of access control and authorization checks, high availability, and multi-protocol support.
The Internet of Things is very simple to describe: it's about putting the internet in things/objects which can sense, send/receive signals and capture data. Fridges, smoke alarms, televisions, cars, smartphones and many such products are getting wirelessly connected to the internet and to other devices easily. It is simply an advancement of human vision to stay connected and use technology as a platform to enjoy not only new features and items available to them but also use the same sources to make informed decisions that would better serve their preferences.
"By 2020, it is predicted that the entire Internet of Things will have a market value of $8.89 trillion. There are many factors that enable this value to be reached. There is revenue from the sale of wearables and "things"; there is software licensing, hardware, and reduction of operating costs in manufacturing, information technology, research and development, marketing and corporate operations."
Research firm IDC expects that the global installed base of IoT will reach around 212 billion things by the end of 2020, including 30.1 billion installed and connected autonomous things. Intel predicts there will be 31 billion connected devices. Cisco, a notable leader in IoT research and awareness, predicts 50 billion objects will be connected to the Internet. Gartner predicts these billions of connected ‘things' add economic value of $1.9 trillion in 2020.
In nutshell, smart innovation was earlier confined to a few people who understood technologies, but with the Internet of Things, the playing field has opened up to hobbyists, entrepreneurs or anyone who can dream and take their unconfirmed ideas to the next level with easy to use/implement devices, protocols and entities.
This new vision is what is called ‘The Internet of Things'.
- Internet of Things, Europe: http://www.internet-of-things.eu/
- Internet of Things Architecture: http://www.iot-a.eu/public
- General Articles on IoT Published by Gartner (IoT), Computing Now and IEEE.
- Internetworking Technologies ‘An Engineering Perspective and Pervasive Computing' by Prof. Rahul Benerjee, BITS Pilani.