You may have heard the latest internet buzzword – the Internet of Things. You can see it around you as everyday objects and other features of the physical world become smart. Wireless technology is used to connect objects, locations or even animals to directly transmit and share data with the purpose of co-ordinating all their individual responses in one ongoing seamless flow.
To illustrate the enormity of this concept, in the future it won’t simply be a question of using your mobile phone to remotely switch on a garden sprinkler from another location; the sprinkler will determine from moisture sensors in your lawn which areas require most attention plus consult the local weather forecast to make best use of water resources. The ultimate goal that can already be seen in motion is to automate routine tasks in our lives and to anticipate and respond to our needs.
Traditionally people have accessed the internet through devices like desktops and smartphones in order to post, view or retrieve data (in the form of text, films, music or whatever your interest may be). In the Internet of Things however the objects do the communicating themselves: they upload the data, communicate with other devices, receive commands from the cloud and respond according to how they are programmed.
The outcome will be a streamlined world where the refrigerator is automatically re-filled, the lights switch on when you walk in the door and updates are downloaded to the washing machine, which of course has been programmed to warn you before a [specific component] fails. These are examples from streamlining the home area of your life but the Internet of Things will influence much more and on a global scale: our health, the workplace, the environment, entire cities. Science fiction? It’s already happening.
Expansion is predicted to be phenomenal as the Internet of Things radically changes every aspect of how we live our lives. The Internet of Things is the next Internet Revolution, and the first didn’t go unnoticed. Strategy Analytics has forecasted that 26% of broadband households in the world will have at least one smart home system by 2019.
There is already huge momentum building up behind the concept. Governments across the globe are ploughing in massive funds and tech giants have stepped in to wield their power. The idea has been discussed for decades but now technology happens to have come together to make it a reality: the wide-scale presence of wireless technologies and the internet; advances in micro-electormechanical systems and the affordability of components; and the proliferation of smartphones. Everything is falling into place.
At the moment there is a small but growing range of applications on the market that offer real benefits in ingenious ways. For a manufacturer to connect an object to the Internet of Things that object first needs to be assigned an IP address and given the ability to transfer data over a network. But the real challenge is in deciding what data to capture and how to use it to create meaningful services that provide value.
The next challenge isn’t for the manufacturer, it’s for you the user to see how these products would benefit you (and it’s also for me the user to figure out too).
And don’t forget your business! Study this infographic of predictions for the internet of things and other digital trends – explore how you can apply them to your business as well as your life.