The Internet of Things – What Is That Thing?

“The Internet of Things” (IoT) – sounds great doesn’t
it, but what is it exactly, and why are so many hip people talking
about it. In this blog, we attempt to define what it is, where you
can find it and more importantly, what effect it will have on normal
folk in the street.

So, What IS The Internet Of Things?

Well according to top tech information resource site
Techopedia, The Internet of Things (IoT) is“a computing
concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will
be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to
other devices. The term is closely identified with RFID as the method
of communication, although it also may include other sensor
technologies, wireless technologies or QR codes.

The IoT is significant because an object that
can represent itself digitally becomes something greater than the
object by itself. No longer does the object relate just to you, but
is now connected to surrounding objects and database data. When many
objects act in unison, they are known as having “ambient
intelligence.”

Sounds lovely – but what
does it all mean?

Well, to put it simply, it means all of your appliances, tools,
and vehicles will talk to each other in the future. As time goes on,
you’ll start to see more and more internet connected devices, which
will make our day to day lives more efficient. Of course, the more
things we automate in our lives, more problems can arise when
something goes wrong, but lets not worry about that so early in day.

But What do We Mean By A Thing?

So a “thing” can be anything, for example it could be a
person with a heart monitor implant, a farm animal with a biochip, a
car that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when tire pressure
is low — or any other natural or man-made object that can be
assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data
over a network. So far, the Internet of Things has been most closely
associated with machine-to-machine (M2M) communication in
manufacturing and power, oil and gas utilities. Products built with
M2M communication capabilities are often referred to as being smart.

Although the concept wasn’t named until 1999, the Internet of
Things has been in development for decades. The first Internet
appliance for example, was a Coke machine at Carnegie Melon
University in the early 1980s. The programmers could connect to the
machine over the Internet, check the status of the machine and
determine whether or not there would be a cold drink awaiting them,
should they decide to make the trip down to the machine.

Kevin Ashton, co-founder and executive director of the Auto-ID
Center at MIT, first mentioned the Internet of Things in a
presentation he made to Procter & Gamble. Here’s how Ashton
explains the potential of the Internet of Things:

Today computers — and, therefore, the
Internet — are almost wholly dependent on human beings for
information….The problem is, people have limited time, attention
and accuracy — all of which means they are not very good at
capturing data about things in the real world. If we had computers
that knew everything there was to know about things — using data
they gathered without any help from us — we would be able to track
and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We
would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and
whether they were fresh or past their best.”

And How Will This Effect Us All?

Well there are many ways this ambient intelligence will help us in
our day to day lives. For example, you will be able to tune your new
truly “smart” car that will reach out to a mechanic when
its time for your annual service or if your tyre pressure is running
low.

A much more useful and potential lifesaving way to harness all
this new smart technology, would be the use of it in the NHS and
other healthcare providers. Say for example, your prescription is
running low, and your bottle is smart enough to send data to your
doctors surgery informing them that you will soon need a new
appointment.

The Internet of Things could even save us money by monitoring our high-energy consuming household appliances. Data
received from them could automatically then adjust your bills based
on dynamic price signals. Thermostats and lighting will learn your
habits to create the optimal setting based on your daily life, such
as turning to your ideal temperature just before you arrive home.
These gadgets will also sense when no one is in the house and turn
off automatically to reduce wastes and costs. How wonderful is that!

Being on the road could also become a lot safe – driving could
potentially get a lot safer, as traffic lights will be able to adjust
to real-time traffic conditions such as when an emergency vehicle is
approaching and road sensors will make changes to the speed limit
based on weather and accidents.

If you are feeling super lazy, smart refrigerators will sense when
you are running low on staples such as eggs or milk and will
automatically populate your grocery list. Stores will push reminders
to add items to your list when it predicts you about to run out based
on your historical purchasing behaviour and average buying trends.
When you are walking through the store, reminders will get pushed to
you to ensure you never have to make that dreaded second trip.
Hoorah!

Everything from our morning alarm, monitoring how your baby sleeps
to interacting with your social media whilst you are on the go, could
be made so much easier by using ambient intelligence.

With the growing number of connected things in our lives, we will
all become more in tune with our own data (a la Nike Fuelband) and
start to expect more personal interactions with brands and retailers.
Marketers will need to establish a trust among consumers and prove
that if they give up access to some of their personal data, in return
they will get more tailored offers, deals and interactions.

And it will no doubt be that our humble smartphone will become
everyone’s portal into the Internet of Things, and a complete remote
control to your life.

We hope that’s helped explain the IoT a little bit more for you –
but if it hasn’t – don’t worry, as with all things technological –
when it finally happens, we’ll all be onboard with it and wondering
how we ever lived without it!

December 11, 2014 | Laura | Posted In : Web Design
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