The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the development connection of objects and devices through computer based networks.
According to Cisco, there were 500 million networked objects in 2003, compared to 6 billion people worldwide. By 2020, Gartner predicts that 25 billion connected items from refrigerators to jet engines will be operating together on a daily basis, while Intel boldly predicts there could be as many as 200 billion networked objects by then (Intel, 2016)(Gartner, 2016).
The concept emerged long before today's global computer networks. The terms associated with machine-to-machine communication and ubiquitous computing emerged throughout the 20th century. The term "IoT" was officially born around 2008-2009.
In all its configurations, it essentially involves smart objects, machine-to-machine communication, RF technologies, and a central hub of information.
- The first step in having so many objects connected to the Internet is to have a unique identifier for each object specially a unique IP (Internet Protocol) address.
- The next decision is whether the object is going to be "active" or "passive"
A passive connection uses RFID tags (radio frequency identification) essentially smart chips that contain a small amount of information identifying the object.
An active connection is more robust, using embedded sensors and computing power to allow an object to gather and process information from its own environment and/or through the Internet.
TCS (2015) identifies 13 primary business sectors to watch because of their size and breadth which are:
- Banking and financial services
- Consumer packaged goods
- Healthcare and Life Science
- Industrial Manufacturing
- Media and entertainment
- Travel, transportation, and hospitality
The same report bu TCS recommended that business interested in capitalizing on IoT should strategically consider four core areas:
- Premises monitoring
- Product Monitoring
- Supply chain monitoring
- Customer monitoring, (TCS 2015)
According to Samsung Vice President Rory O'Neil, we should stop referring to the "Internet of Things" because in its mind, it's all about the Internet. The "of things" add-on is simply jargon to confused people. His main concern is interoperability because "with so many companies wanting to get in on the action, it's inevitable that there will be different ecosystems" (Langley 2016)
All the diverse industries, devices and gadgets must talk to each other so they can work together. For example, a smart home that can't understand a new refrigerator because it's from a competing system or won't interface with your smartphone because it's an Android would create chaos.
The range of products is too great to look at prices for IoT. According to IHS Automotive, for example, self-driving technology will add between $7,000 and $10,000 to a car's sticker price in 2025. That may drop to $5000 by 2030 and $3000 in 2035 (Tannert, 2014). Basic networks hubs to control applications can be as cheap as $199 but quickly ramp up depending on a host of factors and systems.
Factors to Watch
- Massive interconnected systematic sharing of digital information raises concerns if not outright fear
- No overriding standard for the myriad systems that will create the Internet of Things
- All the IoT devices and objects need to seamlessly interface in order for it to work
- Two main collectives have arisen seeking to set IoT standards: The Allseen Alliance (Qualcomm, LG, Sharp, Panasonic, HTC, Sony, Electrolux, Cisco, and Microsoft) with the system called Alljoyn; The Open Interconnect Consortium 0IC (Intel, Samsung, GE, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Electrolux)
- Privacy versus security
The Internet of Things will increasingly be an inevitable part of our lives. The promise for a world that serves us on our terms is seductive, and hundreds of companies are racing to be a part of the chorus that tells us what we want to hear. Several systems and technologies are being launched and put in places that rely upon the internet, smartphone technology and RFID embedded devices. Some products are already available online or cat a store near you.