The Internet of Things is the hot topic in the tech world at the moment, and being that it’s all about connecting everything, it’s a subject that we are very excited about!
Talks of the internet of things started in the early 2000’s and in 2010 IBM released this video explaining the theory.
As this Google Trend Graph clearly shows – bloggers, industry buffs, engineers and consumers are all talking about the internet of things and the kind of changes that the new technology will bring. The buzz around these topics has even extended into an “Internet of Things” festival in Boston, who’s interesting catchphrase title is “Creativity fused with technology and the internet – together we will make things”
So what is the Internet of Things?
The internet of things is the idea that one day every electronic machine could be connected through a global wide network (the internet), as well as to each other. Meaning that appliances and machines could share and communicate information with each other for the mutual benefit of their owners (us!)
The machines that we use every day collect, or have the potential to collect vast amounts of data. The data is generally confined to one machine, system or network. If this data was shared across a large number of machines in order to generate accurate predictions, organise faster responses to incidents and created more automated living – that would be the point where we were experiencing the internet of things.
Of course, this sort of data sharing happens on a much smaller scale already – within our own automation installations for example, and many more types of media already communicate with each other.
As we move towards this global sharing of data becoming a reality, the internet of things is becoming a topic that most governments, manufacturers & engineers are placing a considerably amount of importance on, as the benefits for every sector are being realised.
In theory, we already have the knowledge and the technology to make the Internet of things happen tomorrow.
But there are a number of changes that need to happen before the Internet of Things becomes a reality.
Most machines and appliances have been engineered & developed independently of one another, and manufacturers are fairly protective about sharing too much information about the technology that may have taken a great deal of resource to develop.
But if the Internet of Things is to become a reality then engineers and developers need to start communicating with each other, and this will mean sharing their own valuable research.
If machines are going to be able to to communicate data to each other for our benefit, then each needs to be able to understand one another. This means that they need to “speak” in the same language, or at least be able to translate information from one another in order to make some use of the shared data.
Because technology has evolved through so many avenues, there are no global standards which all machines are required to follow.
The Internet of Things will need to have trillions of channels where data will be constantly moving across the global network, and each new entry point into the network increases the chances of attack.
Most organisations with very private data like governments and medical companies are now very good at preventing attempts at attack. The number of “things” connected to the internet currently out weighs the number of the people on the planet, and this number is is set to grow to around 50 billion by 2020 averaging 6 devices per person. Not all of these machines connected to the internet like your coffee machine or your fridge are not going to have the rigorous kind of security that a government network will have, and if everything we own is connected through the global network – there is a risk that hackers could reach sensitive data through these vulnerable and unsecure machines.
This type of IoT hacking has actually already begun to occur where hijackers have already hacked over 100,000 Smart devices, including Smart fridges being used as an entry point for malware attacks.
Satellite internet has the potential to send data further distances than physical cables, but the speed of transfer is heavily affected heavily by atmosphere including various forms of precipitation like rain and snow.
One measurement of internet speed is measured by latency – which is essentially the time it takes for the data the user has requested to reach their machine. According to research carried out by the Federal Communications Commission, currently this the latency for satellite is around 20 times slower than those using terrestrial channels.
Our internet in our homes and in static locations has made dramatic improvements since the days of dial up, but internet on the move still has some way to go.
As this map from TeleGeogrpahy shows, much of the world is still cut off from any high speed network access.
Internet on our mobiles, tablets and other portable devices is not always reliable. How well connected your devices are can depend on which service provider you are with, how far you are from their masts, and whether you happen to be unfortunate enough to end up in a tunnel whilst trying to send an email or make a call.
Although the network of cables that deliver data is fairly extensive, and phone masts are improving – they need to be expanded to reach the more remote parts of the world, to cope with the predicted population growth and to deal with areas that are currently cut of from the network because of physical barriers.
It’s not really that impossible…
Despite all of these barriers, when you think about how far we have improved in all of these areas already, we really aren’t that far off from Internet of Things happening as the science fiction geeks are imagining. Our motivation to use technology to improve the efficiency and ease of our own lives will always be a driving force to continue to evolve technology…and we are very excited about the opportunity the future holds!
The Internet Of Things Has Been Hacked, And It’s Turning Nasty - http://readwrite.com/2014/01/16/internet-of-things-security-hacking-malware#awesm=~oxCNTsjnwDDx1W
What is the Internet of Things - http://www.statetechmagazine.com/article/2013/08/what-is-the-internet-of-things
How to ruin the Internet of things: Tie up with a carrier - http://www.infoworld.com/d/consumerization-of-it/how-ruin-the-internet-of-things-tie-carrier-234839
The Internet of Things: Challenges and opportunities - http://asmarterplanet.com/mobile-enterprise/blog/2013/09/the-internet-of-things-challenges-and-opportunities.html
Satellite Internet access - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Internet_access
White Paper Satellite Internet access - http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/02/satellite-internet-faster-than-advertised-but-latency-still-awful