Defining the Internet of Things
I am digging deeply in the Internet of Things for the past year or so. I can easily call myself a professional with a lot of expertise in the field of technology, talk for hours about sensors, actuators, wires and stuff. But I will not.
I will restrain from the technical aspect of IoT for the given moment.
I am a firm believer that bringing the concept of IoT to mass adoption, requires that it is first explained. In simple, even layman, terms – to people not-so-tech-savvy, being the largest chunk inhabiting the Earth and also not being on the edge of technical news and reviews. I find it extremely important that everyone understands the power and disruption [for the good] Internet of Things already brought and will bring to our everyday lives in the very near future.
Now, how do you, quite aptly, begin to describe something with as grandiose a title as the Internet of Things? Well, you don’t. Don’t get me wrong – it is not that you cannot describe the Internet of Things (IoT); but it is that you could not possibly describe all that it entails in a single go. Even though, I will try.
For starters, the Internet of Things is not a random concept or mere abstraction – it is the single greatest invention of the 21st century. I kid you not! IoT transcends prosaic invention or innovativeness. It is a grand form of technology that is simply paradigm-shifting and earth shaking. Yes, Internet of Things is the next very big thing itself. It is just matter of time – and it will be the very same commodity as the electricity.
And that is to say the least. IoT redefines reality and the way we think about things. In a manner of speaking, it puts things into perspective. A fresh and different perspective. More helpful perspective. More useful perspective. It is like when scientists finally discovered that the earth is round in shape. It is what investment pundit site Fool.com [don’t let the self-deprecating title fool you] has called “the mother of all game-changers.”
Now that is not an idle praise!
Think of IoT in the lines of Isaac Newton, Thomas Edison, Graham Bell, or Albert Einstein. They went beyond provoking thought to creating revolutionary theories and products! They thought out of the box, dreaming the impossible, standing out to the casual [and not so] laughter their ideas generated at first sight. Thanks to people so bright and their findings we now live in the world we know today.
The Industrial Revolution period [18th – 19th century], as we call it nowadays, marked a major point of improvement in human history. Economical and technological innovations gained their very momentum with the invention of steam-powered ships and railways first, followed by the the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation afterwords. Think how that changed our lives so far.
Back then, it was all about contributing to improving human life and circumstances around it. It is pretty much the same now. This is the driving force of innovations – it has always been. This is why, Internet of Things, I dare say, is the next industrial revolution. It will bring even more comfort to our lives, our cities, our everything. It will bring a lot of profit and shake the economy, too.
Of course, the world has not stood like that for ages – of course it has evolved over time, it evolves every single minute. What’s the fuzz?, then, you’re going to ask. What industrial revolution the guy with the monkey is talking about?
Well – Internet of Things and the paradigms that shape it – they posses power to disruptively change entire industries, cutting their expenses in half while in the same time doubling their efficiency. The Internet of Things will have as massive outreach as the phone, the electrical grid and the computer ever had. Now that is big and it is revolutionary. Now that is the mother of game changers!
I said IoT transcended measly abstraction, however – according to Fools.com, this new technological paradigm is expected to generate some “$19 trillion worth of global economic value” over the next decade! Microsoft cites the McKinsey Global Institute [here] as saying that IoT has the potential of generating economic value of $2.7 trillion to $6.2 trillion every year by 2015.
This means that it works!
IoT has moved from being a good idea to being a good thing. IoT is a disruptive technology. A technology is disruptive when it replaces an existing technology and causes a shift in the balance of things. It introduces cheaper and more effective ways of doing the same things, thereby rendering all other existing technologies obsolete by the sheer power of its relevance to consumer needs. Just what happened in the industrial revolution, as we know it nowadays. This is how it works.
Think of keyless entries, pilotless aircraft and driverless cars. Think of smart cities, smart streets and smart grid. Take a look around the place, where you are reading this article, and then imagine what it would be if everything around you is connected and working together – to improve your quality of life, personalize your experience or just deliver some fun.
These are technologies that redefine the way we think about day-to-day activities such as opening doors or driving cars and add value to even mundane tasks in significant ways! Technologies are destined to rule and automate a good portion of our lives in the future. It is a bit frightening, yes – but after all, they are made by human beings and for human beings. Just like the light bulb back then.
According to Forbes [here], some of the most disruptive technologies of the 21st century come from the Internet of Things field. Things such as wearable technology, what Forbes has called the Internet of You, are becoming a big hit with enthusiasts of augmented reality and ordinary, open-minded folks as well.
And these devices are changing the way people live their lives in very meaningful ways. For instance – Fitbit and Jawbone are wearable devices that track personal health indicators such as the number of steps taken during a walk or jog, the amount of calories expended, and the number of times a person woke up during the night; Another great example, from the non-wearable field, is Nest – a smart thermostat that knows you are driving back home and adjusts the climate to your preference. Back to wearables – should I even mention Google Glass?
This data is collated and relayed entirely by the devices. Now, imagine if all manner of things in the world could self-generate and report on all manner of data in the universe and, further, have the ability to share this information with each other remotely without man having to act as a go-between between the machines? It is really not a coincidence that 5G networks are coming. They are not only coming, but they are designed from the very beginning with Internet of Things in mind. Speaking of disruptions here – cellular networks architectures will meet their greatest disruption ever since. We, the consumers, will experience cellular network speeds high as never before. When 5G roll out completely, average latency time is expected to be lowered to 1ms. Indeed, that much of devices, exchanging that much of a data will require that much of a speed.
Welcome to the world of IoT!
In this world, myriad things have the ability to represent themselves digitally and to communicate with each other. The objects communicate through the Internet by way of radio frequencies, wireless protocols, other sensors and even QR codes. The Internet, therefore, builds a relationship between all manner of everyday physical objects with each other and their human users. We will probably see a ‘society’ of Internet Objects someday, similar to the society and hierarchy we human beings live into, who knows.
Large scale automation of everyday processes is the natural outcome of such a scenario. For instance, IBM reports that, through Internet of Things, it is possible to have hospitals monitor pacemakers from remote locations and actually change settings and do other stuff with them, factories can look into emerging problems on the production lines without having to send someone there physically, hotels can tinker with the temperature setting in their rooms to the guest’s liking – the list of possibilities is endless! IoT captures the imagination of the future – it brings all you have [secretly] dreamt upon while watching Star Wars and Iron Man.
Only that the future is already here. Prepare yourselves, folks, for a rollercoaster ride into the very frontiers of cutting-edge technology that would seem to be made in the future for the present. What is the Internet of Things, you ask? Well, it is the future that we are privileged to witness unraveling right before our very eyes.
It is opportunity presenting itself before us. Let us take advantage of it! Help me spread the word about Internet of Things. Help me raise the attention towards the bright future that we are stepping into. Share this post, share the Facebook posters and retweet. People should know what is coming.
Brace yourself, the Internet of Things world is coming!
Even though the initial purpose of this article was to participate with it at the IOT360 Summit Blog contest, it turned out to be a great introduction to the Internet of Things field. I will call it “Defining the Internet of Things” white paper.