The Internet exists as the ethereal substance that doesn’t really manifest itself in any sort of physical being and yet we interact with its’ physicality every single day. The Internet, however, isn’t just limited to our computers – with the right implementation almost any device can become “Internet accessible”. This idea is known as the Internet of Things.
Imagine a world where all your appliances and devices could talk to each other. What would they say? You’re fridge might tell you that it is only at 65% capacity and it is maintaining a temperature of 10 degree Fahrenheit. Your garbage can might say that it is full and needs replacing. That’s exactly what the concept of the Internet of Things is. Using a system of sensors, microcontrollers, cloud computing and data analysis, any device can become Internet enabled. Your fridge, with a combination of weight sensors and temperature sensors would actually be able to communicate to you how full it is and the current temperature inside of it. The whole purpose behind the Internet of Things is to collect more information in certain applications and do something useful with that exact information.
As a network of physical objects, Internet of Things (IoT) empowers a wide variety of devices to gather and exchange data through sensors, software applications, and network connections. The environment provides each device with a unique identifier and allows various devices to gather and exchange data over a network through machine-to-machine interaction. The machine-to-machine communication will make the devices both smart and complex.
Also, the interaction will have a huge impact on the software testing industry as most devices will use specialized software applications and tools to gather and exchange data with each other.An environment in which devices are connected to the Internet simply by assigning an Internet Protocol (IP) to them can be described as the Internet of things (IOT).
When I mean devices, I refer to things such ordinary contraptions, such as washing machines, televisions, dish washers, wearable devices, etc., besides machine components, which all have sensors.
Kevin Ashton, the co-founder and former executive director of the MIT Auto-ID Center, is credited with coining this phrase. When he was working for Procter & Gamble in 1999, this awesome futuristic notion struck him.
The concept is mind-boggling to say the least! Gartner, the prominent IT research firm, expects that by 2020 included in the ambit of the IOT will be 26 billion devices.The IOT will be able to execute advanced computing applications as they will be incorporated with powerful microprocessors. And a few years down the line, these devices, which will be connected, can manage applications that PCs and smartphones currently handle!
Recently, major IT players like Intel, Samsung, and Dell have decided to collaborate and come up with an industry standard to enable smart home appliances to talk with each other via the Machine to Machine (M2M) communications, according to Mashable.Meanwhile, another interesting development to take cognizance of is that Google acquired Nest, a maker of thermostats and smoke alarms, at a cost of $3.2 billion, so that the search engine company can make a hardware foray into IOT.
So IOT will usher in a new development where most of the Internet activity will be due to these appliances, and not typical computing devices. These embedded processors will infest your life more than you can imagine. They will not even leave your pup, passport, credit cards too!
There are many technology focus start-ups that are building devices that are using this idea of the Internet of Things and giving our everyday devices the power and ability to collect data. Here are a few of them:
This is a medical device based start up company that is based out of New York City, New York. AdhereTech makes pill bottle dispensers that collect data on whether or not pills have been consumed or not, for patients who need to take prescribed medication. Prescription adherence is one of the biggest issues that doctors face today – how can they ensure that patients are taking the medication that they need at the appropriate times? The problem itself is about a $100 billion dollar issue and causes close to 125,000 deaths per year in the United States. The pill bottle dispenser that AdhereTech makes will detect when a pill/dose of medicine has been removed from it at the appropriate time. If the medicine has not been removed, then it will remind the patient by a text message or email or phone call. In addition to doing this, it will also aggregate data as to why the patient did not stick to their routine, which gives patients a better understanding of their own habits.
Heapsylon is a company that makes clothes that gives runner feedback about their styles of running in order to prevent injurious running practices. They make socks that will track cadence, foot-landing technique, center of balance and weight distribution on the foot as you walk and run. If you’re running in a manner that will injure your feet or legs at all, Heapsylon will inform you through an app and recommend the best possible way for you to correct this practice. They are also working on articles of clothing (t-shirts or bras) that will automatically monitor your heart rate, so there isn’t a need for you to clip on any additional devices to yourself.
But why is it that the IOT is picking up now? One may ask. This can be attributed mainly to the introduction of IP Version 6, in 2012. This development enabled the exponential increase in the number of unique Internet addresses, which, in turn, is now causing umpteen number of devices to be connected to the Internet.
Another catalyst for the emergence of IOT is cloud computing, which is enabling a massive amount of data generated by the sensors to be stored. Finally, all of these developments are being abetted by powerful analytical tools and faster computers.
Let us have a look at a few examples as to how it will affect ordinary people.
It will have an impact on people, who will wear devices that will enable them to be connected to the Internet; it will let people monitor their homes remotely; factories will have sensors that will let its personnel keep tabs on movement of materials; and finally, it will enable us to get real-time readings from cities, forests and oceans, on various aspects, including pollution levels, climate changes, etc.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. It will affect subtly our communication with devices that some random examples are not at all sufficient to explain its magnitude.
Not all are, however, feeling buoyed by this new technology. The people, who are concerned, are worried that IOT may encroach too much into our private space, which already is in the public domain in the connected world. There are also worries about security being breached, what with so many personal devices being on the Internet. If unscrupulous elements among us exploit it, it may lead to chaos, feel the doomsayers.
How To Get Involved
It’s very easy to create Internet enabled devices yourself. There are several companies that make starter electronics kits that allow you transform your own mundane, household devices into data collected and communicating computers. Here are four companies that are probably at the forefront of this space: SparkFun, Adafruit, MakeyMakey, and littleBits. All of these companies have the goal of making electronics more accessible to all. All of these companies have kits that come with some sensors and instructions on how to use those sensors as well. You can easily learn how to incorporate these sensors into your devices and program them to give information back to you. You can start innovating and begin to put together ideas and applications that might have a widespread usefulness.
If you are interested in developing a device or founding a start-up company in the Internet of Things space, you should educate yourself on the technology that is currently out there. This will help you get a better understanding of what is possible to do and put you in a better mindset to assess the technological needs of an idea that you may have. The second thing that you should do is start keeping your eye open to problems or gaps that are out there that could benefit from an Internet enabled device. Doing both of these things will keep you ready and open minded and ready to get started for when you have your next big idea.
The Internet of Things will produce an abundance of data that will be of use to businesses as well as to individuals. It could enable more targeted marketing, for example, as well as make it easier for consumers to find the products they like or to access more information. As they say, it is anybody’s guess as to what the future holds for us.