IBM is investing billions into it, Oracle is after it, Microsoft, Google and Intel are already in the race and hundreds of budding startups budding are exploring the realms of IoT! Internet of things is the buzzword of 2015 and probably it will be for the next few years to come. But what is it exactly?
What if you keychain can buzz you when you forget it at a bar, what if your flip flops or running shoes can tell you the number of steps you’ve taken? Imagine your door locks getting unlocked when you reach home. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination of the thinker! What is common among these things ? These are common everyday objects, objects that are otherwise ‘dumb’ inanimate things. Internet of things is about connecting up everyday objects virtually to achieve improved user convenience and/or usability.
Kevin Ashton, who is one of the early pioneers who developed RFID invented the term “the Internet of things” in 1999. He used it to describe the network of devices he was researching on. IoT isn’t all about machine to machine communication, it spans across devices, protocols and multiple application domains. Do not confuse the “internet” part in IoT with the internet we’re familiar with, it’s an internet on its own for the “Things”. But our traditional internet can be used for IoT and today’s IoT is based around this use case, our traditional internet.
Wearables and smart devices are gaining popularity among the mainstream audience. Interesting fact is that, prices are coming down exponentially. As the prices go down, more people will adopt and a whole new world of possibilities will be revealed. Automatic toll collection, intelligent traffic signal control, augmented gaming and all are the tip of the iceberg. IoT is taking over the world at a faster pace while keeping a low profile! Households, accessories, gadgets, huge machineries, ultra modern industries, you name it! IoT is present in the everyday life of us all.
IoT isn’t about consumer products or services. IoT spans across all application domains, from Healthcare to logistics, the applications are limitless. Connected patient monitoring systems, connected scanning machines, fleet tracking, geo fencing, package tracking, package monitoring etc. are emerging as standards now. Besides the plethora of new application areas for Internet connected automation to expand into, IoT is also expected to generate huge of data from different and diverse locations that is aggregated very quickly, thereby increasing the need to index, store and process this data in a much better way.
Everything about IoT is real-time. Applications of real-time data is huge. Preventing hiccups in supply chains is currently one of the examples. Internet of Things makes our world look like a chapter from a sci-fi novel written some decades ago. Washing machines that notify users about detergent running out are already in the market today. Popularization of cloud technologies made it easy to implement IoT based systems anywhere by anyone. Arduinos, Raspberry Pis and BeagleBones made it possible for the common man to design and deploy low cost functional IoT systems. Simply connecting up sensors to the internet and using the data from them for performing meaningful actions are common and super simple these days.
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Like every other too good to be true kind of things, Internet of Things is also not immune to problems. The biggest one being security and privacy. When you wear a smart band or a watch, you are literally allowing companies to spy on you, you are granting permission to push ads and offers based on your location. This location may be shared with multiple sub vendors of the original equipment manufacturer. Imagine any one company’s user database was leaked, before they could even detect it, millions will be in danger. When we grant permission to use our personal data for our own convenience, we are literally putting ourselves in potential danger. As more and more security flaws are being detected daily, Internet of Things and its applications are also under the radar.
The IoT is quiet vulnerable and prone to attacks. The Internet is still not secure, so we can’t expect IoT to be secure, either. However, security is constantly evolving to meet new challenges, we’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again, with IoT and subsequent connected technologies.