Analyse Your Things With Internet of Things [A Primer on IoT]

When man couldn’t communicate ages back, they thought how wonderful and simple it would be if they could communicate their thoughts and feelings to each other that was easily understandable. Things would be moving faster, processes and system would be rolled out and life would be a tad simpler to manage.

After two millennia, man is at the brink of making one more revolutionary communication possible that is Internet of Things (IoT) as called so. How hassle free it would be if the last pill in the medicine pack would communicate about a need for new pack to the medicine store, instead of a person manually keeping a count of it and also avoiding a risk of missing medications on time!! That is exactly IoT : Passing of information between things in a language they understand without human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.  The following diagram explains it in a subtle way:

HealthCare and IoT
HealthCare and IoT

Understanding its process of communication will be simpler if we compare it with how communication amongst humans evolved. Just as we have names to differentiate each other, the devices are given identification through RFID, Barcodes, QR codes and Digital Watermarking. Through these identification systems, the objects communicate their current status on a continuous or continual basis to the needy systems.

Rightly explained by Kevin Ashton in RFID Journal during the inception stages of IoT, ”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.” And that’s a big deal!

We’re physical, and so is our environment. 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. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.

Applications of Internet of Things
Applications of Internet of Things

When a particular environment is monitored continuously for raising efficiency or preventing hazards, risks and costs diminish. They prove fruitful in a longer run.  For e.g. a sensor embedded in a rental car will increase revenues through making car centres irrelevant and higher efficiency and decrease theft cases.

With advent of IoT, the ATM can be checked from remote office whether it is running out of cash. Along with these important fields, IoT will come handy in urban planning, environmental sensing, social interaction gadgets, intelligent shopping et al. Songdo, based in South Korea, is an upcoming model of perennially and ubiquitously connected city with stream of data being continuously tracked with very little human intervention.

Having been talked about so much and being so beneficial, what is thwarting the pace and reach of IoT? It is cost of sensors and actuators that must reach an absorption level. Technologies absorbing the data must grow at the same pace as data, to make the flow smooth among sensors, computers, and actuators. Software to aggregate and analyze data, as well as graphic display techniques, must improve to the point where huge volumes of data can be absorbed by human decision makers.

According to Harbor Research,  nearly 2 billion connected devices will be shipped. This number will grow to 8 Billion in 2020, out of which Domestic, Infrastructure and Healthcare will constitute major segments. It estimates a market size of 180 Billion. When computer and Internet market grew, no one in their dream imagined it to be outpaced by the cyber security market.

In particular, as the Internet of Things spreads widely, cyber attacks are likely to become an increasingly physical (rather than simply virtual) threat. As mentioned in the U.S. Intelligence report, an open market for aggregated sensor data could serve the interests of commerce and security no less than it helps criminals and spies identify vulnerable targets. The cyber security market for IoT is estimated to be as large as the IoT market itself. Considered as a threat to consumer privacy in already a hyper connected world, IoT in the hands of corporations seeking financial advantage and governments craving for more authority shall make the common man hapless.

Whatever they say may be, if Internet was the body of networking era, IoT is going to serve as the nervous system of the next networking era.

References for Data:

  1. http://postscapes.com/what-exactly-is-the-internet-of-things-infographic
  2. http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1261534&page_number=1
  3. http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/high_tech_telecoms_internet/the_internet_of_things
  4. http://readwrite.com/2014/01/10/mobile-everywhere-smart-devices-internet-things
  5. http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/Internet-of-Things
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_Things
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