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The Internet of Things gets smarter

Anand Mokashi – the-internet-of-things-anand-mokashi-web

Imagine, your driverless car reaches your driveway and the gate unlocks followed by the garage door. The alarm gets turned off and the lights come on, if it is dark. The air conditioner, set to a comfortable temperature, has started. Your favourite TV channel comes alive and hot water is ready in the kettle for your tea. All these things automatically.

IoT is an application of the Internet that facilitates objects to have network connectivity, allowing them to send and receive data to each other, software programmes or their human users.

Smart Systems

These are called ‘Smart Objects’ and systems that incorporate these smart objects become Smart Systems. Devices within the smart system are connected with data-collecting sensors so that they can communicate with one-another.

The term ‘Internet of Things’ is not new; the concept was envisaged almost 90 years ago, in 1926.

Serbian American Scientist Nikola Tesla said in an interview, “When wireless is perfectly applied, the whole world will be converted into a huge brain and will be controlled using an instrument small enough to fit in the pocket.”

Chronology of events

1989: The first Internet-connected toaster is unveiled.

1999: The Phrase ‘Internet of Things’ is coined by Kevin Ashton, a British Technologist.

2000: LG launches its smart refrigerator (Price $20,000), with an LCD screen that displays inside temperature, freshness of stored food, nutritional information, relevant recopies and other information.

2016: Significant progress is made with driverless cars on the roads. Gartner Inc predicts that 4.9 billion devices will be connected this year alone and that the demand will reach 20 billion by 2020 (including 250 million vehicles).

The Challenges

Chief among the barriers to the progress of the IoT is its unusually high dependence on cooperation between competitors as well as others in industries.

If devices have to successfully ‘talk’ to each other, they have to ‘speak the same language.’

The reality of the current commercial world however is that manufacturers create their closed systems of software, hardware and protocols. For example, each phone has its own unique charger, battery, connector or an Android device and hence will not easily interact with an IOS device and so on.

Gartner analyst Fernando Elizalde said, “A number of alliances have now sprung up to attempt to address the interoperability issue.’

One such is ‘AllSeen,’ which is backed by Qualcomm, Microsoft and LG.

Security and Privacy

This is an area of tremendous concern or huge opportunity.

You can understand the ramifications of the hacking of a network of home security cameras, door locks and home alarms.

As the application becomes commercial or more personal, the concerns will grow. Researchers are already on the job, addressing such issues.

Environmental Impact is another major issue.

Faster technological obsolescence, need to constantly upgrade devices to keep up with the present will produce huge recycling challenges, for which we have neither answers nor systems in place at present.

No matter what, the IoT is here to stay.

No one is able to say how it will present itself in the future.

Anand Mokashi is an IT Lecturer, Consultant and Digital Media Specialist with a passion for all things online. He runs the Facebook group of Amateur astronomy lovers (https://www.facebook.com/groups/ilavip/) and the website www.astronomyhuble.com. Email: anand_mokashi@consultant.com

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