Technology moves in very fast paces, when people talk about “the next big thing”, the first thing that comes to mind is the “Internet of Things”. According to research firm IDC the global internet of things market will grow to 1.7USD trillion in 2020 from 655.8USD billion in 2014, the firm predicts that the number of IoT connected devices will grow from 10.3 million in 2014 to more than 29.5 million on 2020 and that includes cars, refrigerators, and everything in between.
We know how big the IoT will be and that it will definitely impact our life, but what is it really. If you check on the internet you will find a lot of different definitions some of which make sense and some not so much, even for someone who is an IT person; according to Wikipedia “The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices. Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure.” The way I understand it, is that all devices will have the ability to be controlled remotely and provide information about their status to a remote user/system through the internet. A very good example of this is the smart home, I can switch on the water heater using an app on my mobile phone before I go home so the water is warm as soon as I arrive, or set the temperature of my car to be ready, for when I leave work in the summer, so I don’t have to wait 10 minutes so that I can enter the car.
The aforementioned examples are just the tip of the iceberg in regards to the internet of things. When combining the connected devices to a central system, a system which is a cloud-based application that is used to leverage all the information and provide proactive information and support to the end user, this is where the true potential of the IoT is shown. Starting from the simple things for example, my fridge is connected to a cloud-based application that monitors the rate of which we consume milk, now the milk bottle in my fridge is to about 20% and according to my average consumption we need another day to drink it, therefore the system will connect to my online supermarket and order a milk to be delivered the next day at my house or put a reminder on my mobile phone or car to remind me to buy milk on my way home as soon as it realises that I entered my car to go home.
Of course there are more wide applications of IoT, I particularly like an example from Wired magazine’s Daniel Burrus. He mentioned that “when we rebuilt roads and bridges we can use smart cement: cement equipped with sensors to monitor stresses, cracks, and warpages. This is cement that alerts us to fix problems before they cause a catastrophe.
If there’s ice on the bridge, the same sensors in the concrete will detect it and communicate the information via the wireless internet to your car. Once your car knows there’s a hazard ahead, it will instruct the driver to slow down, and if the driver doesn’t, then the car will slow down for him. This is just one of the ways that sensor-to-machine and machine-to-machine communication can take place. Sensors on the bridge connect to machines in the car: we turn information into action.”
Although IoT as a concept exists since 1999 as mentioned earlier we expect it to show huge growth in the next 5 years. What will really happen when things, homes, roads, and cities become smart?
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