The Internet of Things (IoT) is not just convenient marketing hype to create future sales, it’s actually a reflection of reality. Today it is fast becoming a part of our everyday lives and something that has the power to transform the way we interact with our devices, household appliances and our environment. Here are 10 things reasons why it’s something you shouldn’t ignore.
1. It’s everywhere
IoT defines everything that connects to the internet, not just desktop computers, laptops and mobile devices but previously dumb technology, such as TVs, fridges, cars, industrial devices – in fact anything. Even trees can have Twitter followers! In 2008, the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on Earth and that is still less than 1% of all the physical things in the world today.
2. Manufacturers are paying attention
Silicon chip makers are already producing devices specifically for IoT that will fit into most appliances in the average home. One of the first uses will be to regulate the amount of energy that these appliances use while they are working so as to improve energy consumption and have a positive impact on the planet. It’s also going to have a lovely effect on your energy bills…assuming you stop buying more tablets!
3. IPv6 arrived
Remember that little kerfuffle in 2010 about IPv4 and IPv6 and what it meant for people and how the internet was running out of space? Well, IPv6 is here and it has fixed that little problem thanks to the fact that it can support enough IP addresses to give one to every grain of sand on the planet. Although, as yet, nobody has sat down to count these grains, a guess of 2¹²⁸ or 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 – the number of IP addresses that IPv6 can support – is a pretty good one. Now there are enough of these to affix to every device which will then bring them into the Internet of Things.
This is no longer just the name of the sickly pale side-kick from Star Trek. The amount of information being generated by IoT is nothing short of astonishing. The estimate is that, by 2015, we will be entering the Zetabyte era for IP traffic across the internet. 1 Zetabyte = 1,000 Exabytes = 1,000,000 Petabytes = 1,000,000,000 Terabytes = 1,000,000,000,000 Gigabytes. Have a nice cup of tea while you consider this for a minute.
5. Talking to each other
Currently, the flow of information is mostly from the client to the host, but this is changing as more and more devices gain the ability to talk to each other. Soon your fridge will be able to communicate to your GPS that you’re out of milk and you need to stop at the supermarket, and while you’re there, your car could inform you to top-up the petrol tank, while simultaneously sending a text to your partner telling them you’re running late.
6. It’s here, now
You’ll read about how IoT is coming for the consumer and the home, but many businesses are already using it to great effect today. Think about containers full of frozen goods – these are being tracked using Near Field Communications (NFC) and IoT to inform the stores that the products are coming and that they have not thawed so they are still safe to sell.
If you thought all the talk about staying safe online and protecting your data was going to die out, this will change your mind. With all this information and all this traffic, security policies will need to be updated to ensure that it stays confidential. Whether it is financial or customer management applications driven by Cloudware (or Software-as-a-Service), Wi-Fi hotspot information or even where you are at any given time, security will be the maker and destroyer of corporate reputations.
8. Data centres are cool
In an unexpected move that has tech fans staring at beige-painted and forgotten rooms in astonishment, the data centre has gone from a boring essential to an exciting tool that can change the way we interact with all the information generated today. Now these clever spaces filled with high-end tech with space-age names that can store, retrieve, process and analyse information in real time in order to transform the way we work with, and learn from, all this data. It’s going to be BIG!
9. It must be reliable
Imagine if one link in the chain dies? Your car will direct you to the supermarket, but because your fridge is not communicating properly , you’re not really sure why, you buy some eggs just in case. As everything becomes interconnected and independent, devices will need to be more reliable. And that can only work in your favour.
10. You are already connected
It has been estimated that by 2020 the Internet of Things will consist of 50 billion devices. Your smartphone and tablet are already in that tally. So is all the information you create every day on Twitter, Facebook and email. You are already part of IoT.