The Internet of Things IoT

We are listening and reading a new phrase in tech circles: The Internet of Things or IoT.

This article is a summary of a talk by Benson Hougland about IoT and I think will be useful for all of you to get familiar with this subject.

Technology is ready for a huge leap forward and the name of this leap is The Internet of Things. What is this Internet of Things and why should you care?

The Internet has been around for a while but it’s been mostly the product of all the data, images, recordings, games, books, commerce and all of that was created by people for people. It is also one of the most important and transformative technologies ever invented.

The Internet is like a digital fabric that’s woven into the lives of all of us in one way or another.

There’s a new internet emerging and it’s poised to change the world.

This new Internet is not just about connecting people, it’s about connecting things and it’s named the Internet of Things.

Connecting things to the Internet is a big deal. We as human beings interact and contribute and collaborate other people in our own environment through our five senses.

We are able to see, smell, touch, taste and hear. Now, imagine things with the ability to sense and to touch and then add the ability to communicate and that’s where the Internet of people and the Internet of Things intersect.

IoT Examples

Here some examples of these things.  Let’s start with your smartphone.

You wouldn’t believe it how many senses your smartphone has. It knows where you are, it knows if you’re moving, it knows how you’re holding it, it knows how much lights in the room, it knows how close it is to your face, it knows what you’re saying to it, and it even has an eye.

It can see its surroundings, and it also has the ability to communicate on a wireless network.

That’s probably an obvious example. How about a bracelet band. It tracks your steps, it tracks your activity, it even knows how well you’ve slept, and it can communicate on a network.

All of us probably have a thermostat in our homes, but the newest thermostats does way more than just know the temperature in the room, it knows whether you are in the room or not, it learns and tracks if  you are at home or away to ensure your comfort, save energy and it communicates on a network, so you can control it from distance.

With the new light bulbs, you can create all kinds of moods, with brightness, dimming, and so on. They communicate on a network, they know how to listen so I can tell them to turn on/off or blink.

New garage door openers open the largest door in your home, and because it communicates on a network,  it lets me know to get it open or closed, or you can open or close it from anywhere.

With the new scale, you can step on and it automatically records your weight and puts it in a fitness app.

For your pets, exist a thing that fits on your dog’s collar, it’s called a whistle, and it tracks your dog’s activities the same way that you do.

Apps on IoT

There’s a lot of things that were manufactured and built before the internet of things and the good news is we have tools and systems that allow you to add sensing and communications capabilities to existing things.

We build Internet of Things products for industrial applications but we can use all these technologies at home.

There is an app for your spa, to turn on and off.

Another app for your lawn. You can check how much water went on your lawn this morning, you see your sprinkler communicates with the local Water District that senses a bunch of parameters and tells your sprinkler system how much water to apply to your lawn.

That’s really important today with our current drought conditions in some states of USA, so it’s certainly conserving water and you save on your water bill as well.

Big Companies and IoT

There’s a couple of recent developments that we think are worth noting. First is Samsung, they make the handsets among other things, and they just purchased a small company for two hundred million dollars. This company didn’t even exist two and a half years ago.

Google purchased a company for billion dollars that make thermostats and smoke detectors, so obviously these companies think there’s something big on the horizon they’re willing to put a lot of money on the line.

How big is the Internet of Things? It’s been said that the Internet of Things was born at the point in time where there were more things on the Internet than people and that occurred around 2008.

Big business tech giants geeks are thrilled by this. It’s the next big thing, but why should you care?.

We all want to live better lives and the technologies that are inherent in the Internet of Things like the ability to sense communicate, acquire data and so on, will help us build processes and systems that will deliver better healthcare through remote diagnostics and monitoring and bring a safer environment.

With early warning systems for tsunami or earthquake, technology already has a proven track record of providing new levels of comfort for us, and certainly convenience in automating everyday tasks.

We all know that wisdom comes from sensing the world around us and collecting all that raw data and seeing how it comes together with patterns and trends and that turns into knowledge.

We believe that the Internet of Things is the perfect thing to collect a lot of this data and turn it into wisdom to move the human race forward.

Google Flu Trends

Here’s an example of knowledge today our data to knowledge with Google Flu Trends.

What Google has done is they started tracking the location and frequency of search terms related to the flu symptoms, flu diseases, flu treatments, etc.

What they found is that there was a pattern that existed between these search terms and where flu activity was.

They built a website around flu including hospital personnel, urgent care centers, medical professionals. The goal was to understand what’s occurring because we all know that the early detection of a disease can reduce the effect on a lot of us.

It’s it’s certainly another case where the Internet of Things can be the way to aggregate the state data and help us.

IoT Challenges

The Internet of Things can have even more great potential but there are challenges, pitfalls and blind spots we don’t even see yet.

The big challenge for Iot, is the human nature to resist change, we’ve seen it over the course of human history.

You’ve got electricity, automobiles, airplane travel and wireless telephone. It took years from the point of the invention to the point of widespread adoption, but it’s all part of our normal lives today.

One of the challenges of the Internet of Things is to overcome this notion or belief.

There’s another component, that is the technical side to this, and it’s that the Internet of Things is way too complex.

No conversation about the Internet of Things is complete without discussing security and privacy.

We don’t mind if our thermostat knows if I’m in the home or not, but it better not shares that data with anybody else.

Data in the aggregate like we saw with the Google Flu example that’s probably okay, as long as no personally identifiable information is shared.

In other words, we think a lot of us in here and certainly, we all can feel comfortable with doing banking online because we know that our banks have implemented security policies and technologies that ensure that we have a very secure connection with them.

Can you say the same about your armband or your garage door opener? I don’t know, maybe not.

But what if what if there were some applications, some significant boost to our quality of life, would that be enough to prompt us to move ahead with the Internet of Things?