The phrase ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is now becoming like that stranger you see on your way to work everyday but have absolutely no idea who they are or where they come from. They are familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. These days the Internet of things is thrown about judiciously. but many people, though familiar with the phrase, have no idea what it is about. The Internet of things is at best a complex set of variables working together. Understanding it fully is far beyond most of us.
However a working knowledge of the Internet of things won’t be such a bad idea. So I would try to make the it simple and hope nobody, including me, gets muddled up while am at it.
We all know that since broadband internet was introduced, it has become increasingly cheaper and more accessible to more and more people. And with cheaper broadband available to more people, smartphones and smart devices are also becoming cheaper and widely available. These are the two basic drivers of the Internet of things; broadband Internet and smart devices.
Now we have the foundation, the next question is what exactly is the Internet of Things? Basically, it means the ability to connect all devices to the Internet and to each other. And said devices must have a switch to be employed either to connect or disconnect from the Internet. In IoT-speak, devices refers to everything. And everything refers to anything you can thing of and all the things you cannot even think of. We are talking all household appliances, office equipments, all gadgets in a research lab or station, all variables in a transportation infrastructure and well, everything else.
Here is a tiny and easily recognizable example of ‘everything’ in the Internet of things. The memory card of your PC, in the IoT world, would be connected to the assembly line in the factory where the chips are made thousands of kilometers away. Which is in turn connected to other micro and macro devices and components and at the same time, exchanging vital information simultaneously.
To show you how it works in the real world, here is another simple example: if there is a fault in the plates of my inverter battery, in the IoT universe, the plates in the battery would communicate that info to the manufacturer’s factory. After the info is processed in nano seconds, I, the owner of the battery would get an alert on my smart TV, or smart wrist watch or even my PC about the state of my battery. And the solution to fixing it. All these steps are instant, automatic and very fast. Cute right?
Far fetched? In a limited way, the Internet of things has gone beyond more than the conceptual stage with the some analysts saying that by 2020, over 20 billion devices would be connected worldwide. And optimists insists the number would be far higher than that. A 100 billion devices is more like it. That is a lot of devices no matter how you look. And at the rate technology is finding new ways to push boundaries, it is going to get bigger and bigger in a very short time.
The future as far as technology and the internet are concerned, would be based on connecting anything that can be connected. Nothing is left outside the loop. Take a quick peek at this article to see how the Internet of things can work in how we transport ourselves in the city. The future of IoT is far bigger than that though.
On the flip side however, there could be challenges concerning how the world handles such huge dynamic data. Companies for instance might be wary that it would now be easier to steal sensitive data from their servers. And of course, it likely to become much easier for rich countries to tap into the network to spy on their perceived enemies. On the personal security front, does that mean that somebody can hack into my inverter battery and get access to my entire life? These and many other issues that would certainly crop up in the future would be on the agenda as the world tries to adjust to the IoT.
As we march towards to the inevitability of the Internet of Things, the best option for all humanity is to educate ourselves better by keeping abreast of the conversation.