The Internet of Things is one of the most trendy concepts in modern futurology, which ceases to be a concept and is actively implemented.
Let’s try to figure out what the Internet of Things is, who and how it will create, to whom and why it might be needed.
Some interesting historical facts
These historical events are most approximate to the theme of the Internet of Things.
• In 1926, Nikola Tesla said in an interview for Collier’s magazine that in the future the radio will be transformed into a “big brain”, all things will become part of a single whole, and the tools that make this possible will easily fit in your pocket.
• In 1990, a graduate of MIT, one of the fathers of the TCP / IP protocol, John Romki created the world’s first Internet-thing. He connected his toaster to the network.
• The term “Internet of Things” was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 1999. In the same year, the Auto-ID Center, which was engaged in radio frequency identification (RFID) and sensory technologies, was created, thanks to which this concept was widely used.
• In 2008-2009 there was a transition from the “Internet of people” to the “Internet of Things”, i.e. the number of items connected to the network exceeded the number of people.
What is the actual Internet of Things?
IoT is the concept of a space in which everything from the analog and digital worlds can be combined – this will redefine our relationships with objects, as well as the properties and essence of the objects themselves. © Rob Van Kranenburg.
According to one of the definitions, from the point of view of IoT, “thing” is any real or virtual object that exists and moves in space and time and can be uniquely determined.
That is, the Internet of Things is not just a lot of different devices and sensors that are connected together by wired and wireless communication channels and connected to the Internet, and this is a closer integration of the real and virtual worlds in which communication is done between people and devices.
It is assumed that in the future “things” will become active participants in business, information and social processes where they can interact and communicate among themselves, exchanging information about the environment, reacting and influencing the processes taking place in the world around them, without human interference.
According to Rob Van Kranenburg, the Internet of things is a “four-layer pie”.
• Level 1 is associated with the identification of each object.
• Level 2 provides a service to serve the needs of the consumer (can be considered as a network of their own “things”, a particular example – “smart house”).
• Level 3 is related to the urbanization of urban life. That is, this is the concept of “smart city”, where all the information that concerns the residents of this city is drawn into a specific residential block, into your house and neighboring houses.
• Level 4 is the touch planet.
In other words, the Internet of Things can be viewed as a network of networks in which small, loosely connected networks form larger ones.
How the Internet of Things works
The Internet of Things consists of weakly interconnected disparate networks, each of which has been deployed to solve its specific tasks. For example, in modern cars, several networks operate simultaneously: one controls the operation of the engine, the other – security systems, the third maintains communication, etc. In office and residential buildings, many networks are also installed to manage heating, ventilation, air conditioning, telephone communication, security, and lighting. As the Internet develops, these and many other networks will connect to each other and gain more and more opportunities in the areas of security, analytics and management. As a result, the Internet of Things will gain even more opportunities to open to humanity new, broader prospects.
IoT concept is associated, as a rule, with the development of two technologies. These are radio frequency identification (RFID) and wireless sensor networks (BSS).
A wireless sensor network is a distributed, self-organizing network of a plurality of sensors and actuators interconnected via a radio channel. And the coverage area of such a network can be from several meters to several kilometers due to the ability to relay messages from one element to another.
This technology is used to solve many practical problems related to monitoring, management, logistics, etc.
RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a method for automatic identification of objects in which by means of radio signals data stored in so-called transponders or RFID tags is read or written.
This technology is well suited for tracking the movement of certain objects and obtaining a small amount of information from them. So, for example, if all products were equipped with RFID tags and the refrigerator with an RFID reader, then it could easily track the expiration date of the products, and we could, for example, leave the work remotely to look into the refrigerator and determine what needs to be purchased yet.
Areas of use
The Internet technology of things makes it possible to realize the dream of a safe smart home, providing various opportunities: from voice recognition to identifying people facing the front door.
Connected to the Internet of Things the car allows to transform in the valuable information the data both inside the car, and outside of it. The Internet of Things can save lives, reduce the number of congestion and minimize the impact of cars on the environment through the implementation of various solutions: from connected to the Internet or unmanned vehicles to intelligent transport and logistics systems.
With the help of the Internet of Things, a huge number of power system devices can exchange information in real time in order to more efficiently distribute energy and manage its consumption.
The Internet of Things changes the sphere of health care due to the appearance of various solutions: from medical portable devices to tablets for quick response and complex surgical equipment.
Technologies of the Internet of Things allow to increase efficiency of modern industrial enterprises, to optimize production and to increase safety for workers.
Trade and financial services
For the retail industry, the Internet of Things offers unlimited opportunities to improve the efficiency of the supply chain, the development of new services and the creation of new opportunities for buyers.
The Internet of Things makes it possible to solve the problems of increasing the cost of electricity, social and environmental responsibility and compliance with various requirements through the connection, management and protection of devices that collect data from the main systems.
Technological development problems
There are factors that can slow down the development of the Internet of Things. Three of them are the most important: transition to IPv6 protocol, power supply of sensors and adoption of common standards.
Address shortage and transition to IPv6
In February 2010, there were no free IPv4 addresses in the world. Although ordinary users did not find anything to worry about, this fact can significantly slow down the development of the Internet of Things, as billions of new sensors will need new unique IP-addresses. In addition, IPv6 simplifies network management by using automatic configuration settings and new, more effective information security features.
In order for the Internet of things to fully realize its capabilities, its sensors should work completely autonomously. And now imagine what this means: we will need billions of batteries for billions of devices installed throughout the planet and even in space. This is completely unrealistic. We must go the other way. Sensors must learn to receive electricity from the environment: from vibration, light and air currents.
In 2010, great success was achieved in this area. Scientists have announced a commercially available nanogenerator – a flexible chip that converts human body movements (even one finger) into electricity. This was announced in March 2011 at the 241st meeting of the American Chemical Society.
“This event was an important milestone on the way to portable electronics, which uses human body movements to produce electricity, which allows us to do without batteries and power outlets.” In the future, nano-generators will be able to completely change our lives, their capabilities are limited only by the human imagination, ” Zhong Lin Wang, lead researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology.