Internet of Things

The first time someone used the term “Internet of Things” was in 1999 by Kevin Ashton in a presentation at Procter & Gamble [1]. Since then, the steady progress of technology has produced an array of low-cost sensors and the growth of computer processing power sustained by Moore’s Law. That led to a reality where we have an enriching environment with technology, where a system can be used to take decisions to benefit the users based on real-time information and historical data. This system has intelligent sensing technology which is increasingly being integrated with network technologies, thereby allowing the system to react and communicate with the changing environment around it [2]. From business users perspective, they will experience operation and efficiency improvement in areas like automation and industrial manufacturing, logistics, business/process management and intelligent transportation of people and goods [3]. As to common users point of view , imagine alarm clocks going off early if there is traffic; sensors in the plants will communicate to the sprinkler system when it’s time for them to be watered; running shoes communicate time, speed and distance, so that the wearer can compete in real time with people on the other side of the world; medicine containers could tell your family members if you forgot to take the medicine, and these are only a few examples.

Figure 1. IoT

This concept is entering so rapidly in our lives that in the next 10-20 years it will continue to accelerate. A Frost & Sullivan study suggests that the Smart city market will be worth over $1.5 trillion by 2020 with more than 50% of these smart cities being in Europe and North America [4]. And the number of devices connected is growing each day. This development leads to a world with endless possibilities offered by M2M (Machine-to-Machine) communication. M2M is a term, as the name implies, that describes the interaction between devices without human intervention. These devices can be of many types: computers, sensor actuators and mobile devices that communicate with each other, take measures, process data and make decisions. The sensors can be any device that can measure and produce information, such as thermometers, microphones, motion sensors, cameras or even a mobile phone. These devices can publish the data through a network, where a middleware could preprocess it and harmonising the information from the different devices. At this point the data can be stored to be processed and analysed later or used by a decision system using a set of rules to decide if it is necessary to act or not and how. All these concepts and technology make it possible to make decisions and act autonomously via actuators without human intervention. It’s an emerging network that can decide and act in real-time which widens the scope of automation. But with all these “things” connected, we are witnessing an explosion of data from a great number of different sources, which creates some problems due to the heterogeneity of the participating objects to their limited storage and processing capabilities and to the huge variety of applications involved. So with all these restrictions how are we going to integrate all the data being generated by millions of devices?
Stay tuned to the next posts; I will talk about some of the different approaches to integrate all these data.
 
RICARDO SANTOS
EAI Consultant and IoT Evangelist at Polarising
Integrating the world for over 10 years and enthusiastic about the Internet of Things.
He helps to spread the word at Polarising about the future that is happening today.
Martial artist and History’s nerd, he hopes technology will help us get where we need to go.
References

  1. That ‘Internet of Things’ Thing, http://www.rfidjournal.com/articles/view?4986
  2. Smart Is the New Green, http://www.forbes.com/sites/sarwantsingh/2015/03/20/smart-is-the-new-green/#1bc1fe7926d4
  3. Atzori, L., Iera, A., Morabito, G.: The Internet of Things: A Survey, Comput. Netw. (2010).
  4. Frost & Sullivan: Global Smart Cities market to reach US$1.56 trillion by 2020, http://ww2.frost.com/news/press-releases/frost-sullivan-global-smart-cities-market-reach-us156-trillion-2020

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