How the Internet works – Episode 10.
The Next Frontier: The Internet of Things (IoT)
Here we are, the final episode of our How the Internet Works series . We hope that you have enjoyed learning about the Internet over the past 9 weeks.
In case you’ve only just tuned in, we’ve explored:
- What is the Internet?
- What it is made up of
- How it functions
- What it enables us to do
- Who controls it and
- How it was invented
Now it’s time to a look at what the future of the Internet holds.
The Internet is Moving Us Into the SMART Age
The Internet has entered a new wave in its evolution and, with this, we are seeing the Internet weaving itself into the very fabric of our lives. We’d like to think of it as the age of SMART: Smart watches, smart homes, and smart cities.
From just linking computers, the Internet moved on to become a way a way of linking people. Now, we are progressing further by connecting things to things. Making it possible for commonplace objects to talk to each other and operate almost autonomously.
What is The Internet of Things?
IoT is the phenomenon of enabling ‘things’ (anything with an on/off switch) to sense its environment collect and receive data, filter the data, and send necessary information via the Internet to an app or even another object. We can go as far as to say that this communication can also prompt the receiving app or object to take a specific action – without human intervention.
“Things” in the Internet of Things, can refer to just about anything. Have heard about the Smart refrigerator which scans the contents of your fridge and alerts you when items are running low, cartons are nearly empty, and even if they are reaching their expiry date?
Real world IoT examples
IoT is not really new. We’ve been gradually adapting ‘things’ to Internet of Things platforms for many years now. You probably don’t realise just how integrated IoT is in your life already.
In Your Personal Life
- Fitness devices monitor levels and types of activity to help you reach your fitness goals. Like a subtle vibration to tell you when you’ve been idle too long.
- Petnet’s Smart feeder allows you to manage your pet’s feeding time from your phone. It monitors food consumption and calculates how much they should be fed.
There are numerous IoT applications in business today. From printers that can place their own orders for more toner to systems that monitor the pressure levels of fire extinguishers in the building.
IoT is propelling numerous industries forward on a much larger scale as well.
- Fleet Management and Logistics. Telematics can help to analyse and correct driver behaviour, vehicle wear and tear, notify when services are due, and report on road conditions as a start. With this, companies can reduce insurance costs, plan efficient routes and ensure maximum return on investment on their fleets.
- Health Care. The HealthPatch® MD makes out-patient care a dream. Monitoring ECG, respiratory rates, temperature as well as activity readings and sending reports straight to doctors. In emergencies, the device can call for an EMT and provide vital stats en-route.
- Agriculture. Farmers are embracing IoT with telemetry and precision farming equipment to monitor crops and livestock.
The Possibilities Are Endless, But Security Remains Paramount
IoT devices gather a considerable amount of data daily giving us –or rather, the companies collecting this data– an unbelievable amount of knowledge. We should always be mindful of what data we are giving away, to whom, how it is stored, and if it shared.
The good is that massive corporations the world over (such as IBM, SAP and good old Google to name a few) have been aware of the potential pitfalls with IoT from the beginning. Dedicating a wealth of resources to security.
Otherwise, there are only three elements needed for the future development of IoT.
1. Provision of IP addresses
IPv6 makes undecillion IP addresses available meaning that there is virtually no limit to how many devices can be added to the Internet.
Business Insider’s premium research service, BI Intelligence, has predicted that by 2020 there will be more than 24 billion IoT devices on earth.
2. Largescale Broadband Internet
The cloud and connectivity are crucial to IoT.
According to Vint Cerf, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, there are plans to fast-track access to broadband Internet services, by launching “balloons at 60 000 feet, and raining LTE down on everybody and carrying IP packets. There are also low-flying satellites proposed, but not yet up there”.
Technology has certainly progressed to a stage where anything is indeed possible. With the transition to IPv6 and plans to increase broadband Internet access underway, it seems that we are now only limited by our imaginations.
Self-driving cars of the future can ensure we are always safe on the roads and never late for another appointment. We could monitor water usage and climatic changes to prevent further water crises in our dams.
We’re in for some super interesting times ahead and we can’t wait to see where the Internet will take us.
Thanks for reading our series about how the Internet works. We hope you have enjoyed the journey!