The Internet of Things has emerged as the third wave in the advancement & development of internet and is expected to lead in automation in nearly all fields. The companies like Qualcomm, Cisco and Google are leading in the Internet of Things revolution. Initially machines and technology aimed at making work easier. Taking that a step further, the focus now is on interconnecting various technological devices. On a wider perspective, having all the devices in one network makes them easily accessible and controllable. This would appear to be a convenient development. But are we ready to handle it? Is the internet really ready for a master network of so many interconnected network devices?
So What Exactly is the Internet of Things (IoT)?
Internet was just a technology that started out as a way to communicate and share information among various computing devices. It slowly evolved to a stage where more objects like smartphones, tablets etc. were linked to the network. This was no big advancement compared to IoT. Internet of Things, aims at connecting several different objects which can be addressed and communicated with, based on certain communication protocols. IoT would change the way the organizations and government offices interact with the network and the way the network interacts with the physical world. It is projected that by 2020, there would be roughly 34 billion devices (24 billion IoT devices and 10 billion conventional computing devices) linked with the internet.
Evolution of the Internet:
IoT didn’t just happen in a day. Internet has seen several advancements before IoT. What really began as a directory of accessible data and an information sharing platform, slowly evolved to a platform that ruled most business and daily transactions. The stages of evolution the internet has seen are:
- Internet of Boffins- the starting stages
- Internet of geeks– email, online shopping and other internet based services began
- Internet of masses– the websites, social networking sites, use if internet by the businesses on a large scale started in this era.
- Mobile internet-the actual stage that indicated the peak in the usage of internet was this stage where people all over started using internet through their mobile devices.
- Internet of Things– the next big thing! -This is the upcoming stage of interconnected objects.
Requirements to Establish IoT:
- Unique device identity– RFID, barcodes, QR codes etc.
- Communication protocol-ZigBee, Wi-Fi etc.
- Sensors that help track various parameters
Applications of IoT:
1. Smart Home:
Though there are few appliances like air conditioners and televisions that have started coming with inbuilt Wi-Fi modules, there is much work going on in taking home appliances integration to the next step. IoT at home would result in smart homes where refrigerator, ACs, TV and several other home appliances would all be interconnected. A universal access could be provided to remotely monitor and control the appliances. There might also be options where the devices can, at a set frequency, send across their readings or other data. This would make the appliances access more convenient and intelligent.
2. Traffic Control And Monitoring:
On a larger scale, traffic monitoring and control is a useful application of IoT. Smart data analysis and real time monitoring of traffic can help reduce traffic jams. By integrating traffic signals, cameras at traffic signals, electrical signs etc. traffic streamlining becomes easier and could be done remotely. This helps manage the traffic systems based on the traffic pattern and the drivers could also access real time information on traffic and choose their routes accordingly.
3. Smart Cities:
Monitoring and management of parking, intelligent remote traffic management, structural health analysis of buildings and bridges, waste management and smart lighting are few of the many possibilities where IoT could help build smart cities.
4. Other Applications:
The above mentioned are just a handful of the plethora of possibilities of IoT applications. Monitoring pollution levels in oceans, quick alerts during forest fires, logistic and inventory management in industries, and application in agriculture, business management, farming and health industries are the other areas where IoT can cause a revolution.
Impact on Security and Privacy:
Any type of technology has its downsides. A complete control on various connected devices can’t be established without access to an immense amount of data. Integration of several devices universally could also mean sharing lot of personal data, health records; devices could track and know about your presence or absence from home, your exact location, finances, purchase and most other day to day activities. Any technology with such a vast amount of personal data is intrusion of privacy. Also storage of such information in cloud brings in picture, data security. These are few aspects that still make IoT unacceptable by many. Who has access, and who has control over the data, would be the next big question.
Is Internet Ready for the Internet of Things? – An Infographic
Infographic Source: datafloq
How Ready is The Internet to Welcome IoT?
Reach of Internet:
Internet has seen a major growth from last few years but IoT requires more widespread reach of internet. There are several geographical areas and demographical groups that are still not as technologically advanced as the rest of the world. A universal network of connected devices would call for more reach of the internet.
Is The World Ready for IoT?
IoT does involve a lot of privacy and security related vulnerabilities. We can’t go ricocheting into the establishment of IoT without knowing if it would be welcomed.
- Are we ready to share such amount of personal information?
- How secure is the information we share and how much of it can be accessed by third parties?
- How much control would the network provider have?
- How do we balance and control the authority we give to the technology itself so that we don’t end up being ruled by the machines we created?
These are a few questions that need to be pondered over to know if the world is ready for IoT.
Is The Technology Ready for IoT?
Readiness for IoT means ability to move to Internet Protocol – IPv6. Addressing methods for ever increasing number of devices connected to the internet would be a challenge so as to uniquely identify each device and yet not increase the data transmission size considerably. Also, there would be a wide range of devices linked to the same network, establishing a standard type of protocol and programming to address the same is the next challenge. Low power data transmission methods should be devised otherwise it would be meaningless to use IoT in energy conservation applications and increase the energy consumption elsewhere. Whether the ISM band would be able to handle the tremendous amount of traffic, how data corruption could be avoided, how the data security could be maintained would be the other few considerations. How ready the various business players are to implement and use an interconnected network and how ready the government is, also comes into picture here.
Just like the scope of application of IoT is limitless, its challenges and limitations are, too. Whether we accept the limitations and overcome the challenges and succeed in integrating all the “things” with the “internet” would determine when and how Internet of things would finally come over. So all we can do is, keep our fingers crossed and see how this next big technological revolution takes place and be ready to face the changes that it brings over.