The "Internet of Things" (also called The Internet of Objects), a concept coined by Peter Lewis in 1985 refers to a network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items--embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
The Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defines it as "the infrastructure of the information society that allows objects to be sensed or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit in addition to reduced human intervention.
The IOTs is a Network of Networks connected with added security, analytics, and management capabilities. It is the connection of everything that can be connected and viewed as the next stage of the information revolution.
"Things," in the IoT refers to a wide variety of devices with built-in sensors. These are "things having identities and virtual personalities operating in smart spaces using intelligent interfaces to connect and communicate within social, environmental, and user contexts".
The interconnection of these embedded devices is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, allowing for virtually endless opportunities and connections to take place.
Even though The Internet of Things is in its early stages, experts view it as a game changer.In 2015,for example, the world population was estimated to be 7.3 billion. At that time, the number of connected devices was 25 billion, making the connected device per person to be 3.47. The projected world population in 2020 is 7.6 billion and the projected connected devices is estimated to be 50 billion, accordog to theGarnet Inc., a technology research and advisory corporatin. This puts the connected device per person at 6.58. According to the US National Intelligence Council (2008), by 2025 Internet nodes may reside in everyday things--food packages, furniture, coffer makers, vehicles, paper documents, and more will be talking to us and to each other. Experts predict that nearly everything we own will be equipped with a sensor, and that the number of wearable data devices will increase significantly. The question is, what happens if 50 billion things become connected. No wonder, some have used the term "the Internet of Everything (IoE)" to refer to the convergence of people, process, data and things, bringing about unprecedented disruption.
A number of factors such as the availability of broadband Internet, decreasing cost of connectivity, emergence of Wi-Fi capability devices with built in sensors, the convergence of multiple technologies such as wireless communication, real-time analytics, embedded systems, an increased penetration of smartphones, and others are facilitating the development of the IOT.
In addition, a series of intermediate technologies such asRadio-Frequency Identification (RFID), wearable technologies, miniature computers, wireless connections and others are acting as enablers of this gigantic network.
Practical applications of IoT technology can be found in many areas today, in agriculture, in healthcare, in management, in transportation, in home automation (also known as domotics), and others. Today, we talk about "smart cities" where we have intelligent traffic and parking management, and automated building resource management. We refer to smart traffic control and remote vehicle control systems where we see self-driving vehicles that communicate with each other, the road, pedestrians, and street lights. We refer to smart environment where programmes like solid waste management using sensor intelligence and location tracking are helping to create a cleaner, greener environment. We talk about smart health where medical personnel and health care providers deliver health services to remote populations via a network that supports voice, video and intelligent medical devices. And there is talk about smart agriculture where precision farming based on data from field sensors can be used to maximize crop production. Storage facilities can also be controlled for these parameters to minimize spoilage. Real time agricultural and weather updates to mobile devices is expected to keep farmers informed of critical and actionable information.
Such technologies are compelling because they make the things around us smarter and more interactive.
As IoT gains momentum, it will impact a number of business sectors including healthcare, agriculture, education, infrastructure, public services, utilities, manufacturing and more.
The industrial internet is a new and upcoming technology that is changing the practices of businesses everywhere. The term IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) has been used in the manufacturing industries, to refer to the industrial subset of the IoT. Experts estimate that in the future, successful companies will be able to increase their revenue through Internet of things by creating new business models and improve productivity, exploit analytics for innovation, and transform workforce. It is predicted that $12 trillion of global GDP will be generated by 2030 through the IIoT.
With the increase of IoT, working from home has become a way of life.Many businesses are now offering the option for their employees to telecommute, or work from home. In the US for example, it is estimated that one in five Americans already work from home. This number is expected to increase 63 percent in the next five years, and 92 percent of millennials say that they would work from home if they could.
This allows a business to decrease its overhead costs by needing less office space and using less in utilities for daily operation.
The world needs new, reliable, and effective ways of obtaining new development-oriented information and knowledge, putting it into forms understandable and usable by those who need it, and moving it to where it needs to go. The role of IOT in this process is indispensable.
Osei K. Darkwa, Ph.D
Visiting Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago