One of the biggest catchphrases out there right now is the “internet of things”. Businesses are investing in it, and even the British government has invested in it, with David Cameron reportedly a big supporter. But what is the internet of things, and why is it important? Well, analyst Gartner defines the Internet of Things as follows:
“The Internet of Things is the network of physical objects that contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interact with their internal states or the external environment.”
What does this mean in lay person speak? Well, it means that the Internet of Things is technology that allows devices, systems and services to be able to communicate and connect with one another in an advanced manner. Lots of devices, systems and services are already able to do this, and the number of devices that are able to is increasing extremely rapidly. Indeed, according to ABI Research, more than 30 billion devices will be able to connect via wireless to the Internet of Everything in 2020. As of 2013 there were already 10 billion wirelessly connected devices in the market today, so this is going to grow threefold in just a few years. Every day more and more items are becoming able to communicate with one another, all of which has a range of different household and business advantages. In the home it is likely that voice control will play a part in controlling these devices.
But where are these Internet of Things smart devices? Intel explains that these are not yet in the home, or even in the phone. Right now the Internet of Things is most commonly found in businesses, health care and factories. The reason for this is that the Internet of Things gives businesses the opportunity to raise their levels of efficiency. Currently business and manufacturing accounts for 42% of the Internet of Things, with much of this being made up of real time analytics in supply chains as well as machinery that is robotic. Meanwhile healthcare currently comprises 30.3% of the Internet of Things and electronic record keeping, safeguards in pharmaceuticals and portable health monitoring playing an important role. In retail, 8.3% of the Internet of Things is found with smartphone purchases and inventory tracking playing a large role. Security accounts for 7.7% of the Internet of Things, and remote sensors as well as biometric and facial recognition locks make up a large part of this. Finally, 4.1% of the Internet of Things is in transportation with performance tracking, cars that park themselves and GPS locators playing an important role.
In fact, Intel reports that as of 2025 it is possible that the worldwide value of the technology of the Internet of Things will be $6.2 trillion, with $2.5 trillion of this accounted for by health care and a further $2.3 trillion in manufacturing industries. The Internet of Things is already allowing the development of some very interesting technology. For example, according to Intel, already smartphones can be used for the unlocking or locking of doors. Also, the Internet of Things has led to some exciting developments in buildings which make them “smart buildings”. Smart buildings have already been created in Saudi Arabia and San Salvador and they are able to monitor the environment to make sure that aspects such as energy and comfort are well managed for the building’s users.
What might be worrying to some, and seem like amazing science fiction to others is that research into the Internet of Things is already starting to focus on areas like how people might use mind power to control machines, and even to control one another in this way. If that doesn’t sound enough like something out of Star Wars for you yet, then consider this: Intel reports that in the not too distance future, robots will be able to work together in teams to problem solve on scientific challenges and to learn from one another. Science fiction is becoming reality with the Internet of Things, and it is happening more quickly than you might think. Whether you love it or hate it however, the Internet of Things is developing along these lines and is here to stay. These are interesting times in which we live.
Source of feature image: libelium
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.