Giving “wings” to “Internet of Things”
Internet of things is one of the hot topics in the technology industry and one would get to hear on IoT either at workplace or wherever you go. So what exactly is this “Internet of Things”? I am going to highlight some key concepts in this article just to give you an idea of what exactly IoT is and how it is going to impact our lives.
“Internet of things” or “Internet of everything”?
Some call it the internet of things; others call it the internet of everything! It is going to affect everything from healthcare, manufacturing, oil and gas, transportation, wearables, our very own homes and every other aspect of life. And what exactly do I mean by it is going to affect everything? Once upon a time, the Internet was only for the computers. Now it is literally for everything. It is for the devices to “talk” to one another. Broadband internet costs are going down and almost any smartphone device that comes in the market is Wi-Fi enabled. So basically there is a sudden increase in the number of devices being connected to the internet. IoT was born when there were more things connected to the internet compared to people. This happened in 2008. This sudden increase in the number devices being connected to internet has led to conversations around “Internet of things”. Earlier the internet was mainly for connecting people. With the ever increasing devices being connected to the internet, the idea is to build a second generation of relationship which will connect different devices and in turn connect the devices to people. “Internet of things” is the capability of making the devices more intelligent and fine tuning it to meet the expectations of people. Today, around 10 billion devices or things are connected to the internet. This figure will change to around 50 billion devices by 2020. However, the magic of IoT is not in connecting the things to the internet, it is in connecting the things to each other that dissolve all the complex layers in between.
Impact of “IOT”
So why exactly would you want so many devices to be connected to the internet? Imagine waking up in the morning and you have your brewed coffee all set for you. Your bread toaster popping up fresh and toasted bread slices and all you have to do is relish on the freshly brewed coffee and bread slices. What if you could water your plants in the garden with just a click from a smartphone? What if the lights were switched off automatically without you having to go to every room and doing it manually? Basically how exciting would your life get if your smartphone knew exactly where you are and can direct you to the right route and do things for you without you having to manually do it?
Imagine how much power can be saved by turning off the street lights automatically when the sensor does not sense any traffic on the roads! What if you owned a smart band that automatically warns a physician when body essentials go beyond normal levels? What if you could have your wearable device to automatically refill or reorder automatically when you running low on supplies? Indeed, technology has the power to transform the world. It is literally at our fingertips.
However, even though we’ve made it this far, there were many speculations about the internet when it was invented. There were a handful of people who thought the internet will never ever get user friendly or portable. Clifford Stoll mentioned in his article titled – “Why the web won’t be Nirvana” in Newsweek, “Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth is no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works.” This was his retort to all the predictions about the internet made by computer experts which actually turned out to be true, and in fact, way beyond that.
Now why the IoT trend? The reason is multifold. Be it avalanche & forest fires detecting systems to electronic sensors that connect us directly to doctors, IoT is instrumental in literally creating magic. NASA along with Microsoft’s hologram technology have developed a system so that they can virtually conduct experiments in untouched parts of the universe such as Mars, without physically being present there. The video for the same are embedded for your reference.
All of us are aware of humanoid robots of Honda and driverless cars of Google. But all this is still the beginning. There is so much more to accomplish. All this simply shows how rapidly technology is gaining momentum. Many more will be seen in the coming decade that will leave us all enthralled. We have evolved from traditional computers to smartphones in just 65 years.
Opening the door to potential challenges?
When we are talking about billion devices being connected to the internet, there will definitely be challenges related to privacy and a lot of security threats. Companies need to figure a way of handling these devices connected to the internet without having to compromise on the security of the user. Also, with IoT enabling the operation of smart systems, comes the sheer volume of its data. The Internet of Things generated data is accelerating twice as fast as social and computer-generated data. Companies thinking of going the “IoT” way need to improve the speed and accuracy of data analysis in order for IoT to live up to its promise. This is where big data comes into picture with the help of which we can think of strategic and innovative ways of handling the potentially big data that we foresee with so many devices talking to each other on the internet.
Conversations on how the IOT will impact lives have been taking place all over the world and many companies are coming forward to invest in this. India aims to acquire 20 per cent market share in IoT, which would be worth $300 billion (approximately Rs. 19,94,758 crores) by 2020, a top Nasscom official quoted. Recently, Infosys and GE joined hands for new IoT solutions. Telecom services provider Aircel partnered with IT firm Tech Mahindra for IoT services. Another company – Nokia has created a new fund of $350 million for investments in IoT companies. The fund will be used to identify new opportunities for growth in IoT solutions. Thus, firms have made huge investments for IoT. They all anticipate a network of interconnected devices that can be accessed through the internet by just one touch on the phone.