IOT is the buzzword of this century. It stands for – Internet of Things. In simple terms IOT can be defined as the ability to link together all our devices which are capable to be connected to the Internet. The devices and their components can talk to each other though M2M and embedded technologies and protocols.
This way the devices can be made more productive, smarter and help us to set a new benchmark for automation in our lives.
IOT as a theory is a byproduct of advancements in the field of High-Speed Internet Connectivity, Inter protocol operability, Big Data analysis, Analytics and Artificial Intelligence.
IOT is not a new jargon altogether. It has been existing ever since Dot Com world came into picture. Many prototypes have been created on the lines of IOT. A Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University was the first internet connected appliance.
But as such IOT has so far been limited to a few advanced appliance or experiments. The whole idea is about transforming the lives of the masses and its still a work in progress.
It should be viewed as a natural succession to a highly inter-connected world where the connection is not just limited to people or society but extends to a much granular level – say component level of devices which are all connected to internet.
As the diverse technologies converge and multiple protocols inter-operate, the vision of IOT will move closer to reality. More and more companies are now looking to adopt IOT.
At the risk of being viewed as someone who believes IOT is still a future conception, I would still insist there is still a long way to go when we can say IOT has impacted our lives. I do agree that IOT components have existed in our times since 1982.
As put by Wikipedia
The general concept of a network of smart devices has been discussed since at least 1982, with a Coke machine a Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first internet connected appliance. Mark Weisler’s seminal 1991 paper on ubiquitous computing, “The Computer of the 21st Century”, as well as academic venues such as UbiComp and PerCom produced the contemporary vision of IoT.
IOT is sum of evolution of different technologies that promises to build an infrastructure where various devices used in everyday life can inter-operate in a much smarter way than what you ever imagined.
The devices or components can talk to each other through messages; they can be made smart enough to analyze data and patterns. This has been made possible due to advancement in big data related technologies, cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence and related technologies.
Hence can be used to predict outcomes. IOT is still in a very early phase, left out to our imagination as to what we want to achieve through it.
For instance you can expect your television set to capture your favorite programs and figure out a time when you would most probably like to watch a telecast/cinema. It can then alert you through one of the possible ways through mobile or through email/chat/WhatsApp or any other relevant media or channel.
You can expect your Washing Machine to give you a call or SMS to say that you haven’t washed your clothes since last two weeks and better you should put your clothes for washing! If any particular component is not working in your washing machine it may alert you to get it fixed as the sensors are connected to the internet, it can send you a message asking for a fix!
The whole idea is that though we people are smart enough to create technology and products, they have limitation in terms of time, accuracy and attention. If we can enable our devices to analyze and compute things for us and inform us, we can be much more assured of our predictive outcomes.
If IOT comes into force, you can expect devices and machines to inform us when any their parts malfunction or needs repair. IOT promises a great impact in our lives in near future.
Challenges Ahead for IOT
The concept of IOT revolves around the basic fundamental that devices and components should be able to inter-operate and inter-connect.
This brings us to a few challenges of bridging gaps between diverse communication protocols or provide adaptors between the protocols so that components, devices or sensor can communicate well.
The current IPv4 is outdated and has resulted in scarcity of Internet address space. This can be showstopper if we want to visualize a world where communication happens between million and billions of components and sensor at the lowest level. This needs that we rapidly move to IPv6 address space.
The processors, which are the computing engines and work horses, needs to be updated so that they can cross-coordinate across multiple devices, platforms and sensors and are capable to accommodate the diverse communication protocols across all kinds of devices.
The adoption of a global protocol by all device manufacturers, which will help bridging the disparities and differences, thereby enabling ease of inter-operability.
The Internet’/Broadband infrastructure cost needs to decrease further if we need all the micro components to utilize the bandwidth, also the bandwidth provided by ISP and quality of Internet connection needs to improve.
Possible Area where IOT can be used
The crux of IOT is about interoperability with each other and Internet. So the areas where it can have impact is almost the entire world and it can find use literally everywhere.
A few areas where the use is natural and impact quite significant are as below.
Medical Systems: IOT empowered appliances can help better medical care and predictable outcomes, It can analyze the effectiveness of a particular scheme of treatment over the other through data analytics, possibly analyzing patient records, sample data etc. and thereby facilitate a better care.
Home Appliances: Smart homes would be very common where all home appliances and gadgets can operate easily with lesser human intervention. These smart appliances can even monitor themselves and suggest for repairs. They can possibly study the usage pattern of their masters and provide a good service.
Industrial Appliances: With rapid industrialization around the world a great degree of automation has been achieved in industries and factories. But with IOT you can only expect more. The whole process can become more streamlined and people intervention can be reduced to nearly zero.
E-Commerce: A study of usage pattern from customers can help e-commerce immensely. The top notch companies have already started using the customers’ behavior and predicting what a person may be interested in to provide items to the targeted customer. With IOT, this adoption can only increase and e-commerce experience will improved and can only become better in due course of time.
Other than the above, IOT would find usage in almost all areas you can imagine. We are still in the early phase of this huge shift. The change is bound to happen and as predicted by Gartner – there will be 26 Billion IOT enabled devices/components. That’s too huge and impractical to ignore as a hoax!