The Internet of things (IoT) - One of those new buzzwords that people keep muttering in public. Is this ANOTHER Internet? What is it? What can it do and what can it do for you?
The Internet is a vast interconnected network of devices - computers, servers and equipment originally designed to share information quickly, efficiently and with resiliency. The Internet of Things is an extension to this core infrastructure, incorporating devices that can provide data collection and functionality that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications.
The IoT utilises the Internet Infrastructure to send data from an array of areas outside of the traditional computer and server scope:-
For example, these new IoT devices do things like: monitoring server rooms; checking up on the moisture levels in your house plants; delivering information on how your pacemaker is doing; keeping you informed of your fridge or washing machine status.
Why are we doing this and what's the point? Surely this is all a bit gimmicky? Do I really need to know my washing machine has finished it's cycle?
" If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things - using data they gathered without any help from us - we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best"
Kevin Ashton Co-Founder of MIT Auto-ID Center - speaking to RFID Journal in 1999.
The truth is that we're just starting to see how The IoT can benefit us in our own lives. Every day home-hackers are creating their own mini computer devices to collect data about the world around them. They're using systems they design to keep them better informed, give them access to doing mundane tasks with less interaction or sometimes simply for the fun of it.
The truth is that your imagination is often the only limiting factor with the Internet Of Things - people are creating systems to do a great range of things - a quick Google search reveals a plethora of devices and systems.
The question should perhaps be - when you get chance, what are you going to do WITH the Internet of Things?
If you had the opportunity to create a low-cost device that could turn lights on and off automatically, provide you with video feeds or update you with stock information, what would you build? Perhaps you need to keep an eye on an elderly relative or monitor a range of equipment remotely. You might be an engineer trying to keep an eye on your machines to fore-tell mechanical or electrical failures.
You might simply want the ability to unlock your front door and turn your lights on when your car pulls into the driveway - the beauty of the IoT is that the power is given to you to decide and build and create your own inter-connected world.
But remember, as Spider-Man always repeated "With great power comes great responsibility"