The Internet of Things (IOT) – is an idea that assumes all devices (not just PCs, smartphones, tablets) are equipped with sensors and use the Internet to communicate with each other by exchanging data without human intervention. Reality or science fiction?
The IoT idea is not new – the term Internet of Things was first used in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, co-founder of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification). But its success is feasible today through more efficient data transmission networks, growing coverage of LTE based networks, access to cheaper devices such as communication modules and storage systems, as well as the popularization of cloud computing and Big Data. All of these technologies are essential for communication between machines on a massive scale, but also for the efficient analysis of generated and collected data.
IMAGINE THE WORLD…
Nowadays computers are used to analyze data, but it is man who decide what portions of data will be processed using what schedule. Human processing power is significantly smaller than machines that’s why in general todays ability to analyze vast amounts of data is limited .
Let’s Imagine a world where devices (machines) communicate with each other without human mediation. Our refrigerator connected to the Internet communicates with the nearest shop and orders the missing products that are soon delivered to our house. At the same time the store sets up an order to its wholesale for supplementary goods and the wholesale communicates with the manufacturer, which is aware of a demand and can produce exactly what market needs – without overproduction or shortfalls. Another example – we are sick, and a monitoring device reminds us about our medication. When the drugs are about to end – the machine orders them in a local pharmacy – and informs our doctor. And now something for drivers – imagine that taking the highway our car sends a message to the nearest petrol station with our fuel level and demand for the number of liters. The station, collecting data from all passing cars, sends a request to the fuel suppliers, who then sends the aggregated data to the manufacturer. What’s more, all messages are sent immediately, without delay, and data are analyzed in real time. Does this sound like a scene from a science-fiction movie? Today, not so.
IoT is based on Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication, which means active communication between devices. Nowadays M2M technology is used mainly in logistics for package tracking and by suppliers of electricity, water or gas to retrieve data from the meters in our homes. Analysts forecast that the value of the M2M market will grow 20-25% per year. Mobile networks are most commonly used to support communication between machines. In 2012, in Polish market approximately two million SIM cards were used in the M2M model. On the 11th of March Orange, which has a 32% market share for M2M SIM cards, has launched a new portal dedicated to M2M (http://www.m2mcity.orange.pl/) directed to Orange consumers and partners, which educates and informs about general M2M concept and applications, for example possibility of monitoring your dog when he gets lost, your own car or even the temperature in the house or the health of the elderly. PricewaterhouseCoopers analysts estimate that by 2020 there will be around 50 billion devices connected to the Internet, including computers, smart phones, television sets, electricity and water meters or refrigerators, and the global market in 2018 will be worth $ 198 million.
RISKS AND CONCERNS
Like any innovation also Internet of Things raises many controversies and is the driving force to discuss the security of data, especially sensitive one, which can be misused by governments or corporations for citizen surveillance or on the other hand for criminal activities by unauthorized parties. In the eighteenth century during the Industrial Revolution a fear of wide production automation was something quite similar to what we are experiencing with IoT, mainly because automation in exchange and information processing can lead to employment reduction among enterprises. Nevertheless we should be aware that similar to the eighteenth century revolution, IoT will be one of todays drivers for technological progress.
POTENTIAL AND OPPORTUNITIES
Advocates of IoT indicate broad range of applications of this technology in every area of our lives:
- in the industry – to automate the flow of information from the end user to the manufacturer,
- in health care – to monitor patients outside hospitals, emergency medical services,
- urban transport – to manage traffic congestion, traffic lights,
- in logistics – delivery tracking
- disaster warning systems, eg by collecting data from seismometers placed in homes, temperature sensors, measurement of water level in rivers
- • in everyday life such as network enabled homes.
Imagine a world where we have more time for fun and intellectual development. This may be the world of IoT.