What Is Internet Of Things

The latest hot topic in IT is the Internet Of Things (IoT), but what is that really?

Simply speaking it is any device that can be connected to the Internet and send or receive commands.

It is not really new, in the sense that we already have many ‘things’ connected to the internet. Computers, disk arrays, printers, bank tellers, video cameras, mobile phones, cars, medical devices, various production machines. The ‘new’ part is that we see a massive number of new Internet enabled devices coming on the market and with them, we are going to make the same errors as we have already done.

Just think about the problems with unauthorised access of your computer, aka, hacking. With the new devices arriving, example intelligent light switches, we will see numerous cases of IoT devices being hacked and abused. One reason is the relative simple designs and interfaces of IoT devices and the cost of building in security.

Hacking is not the only issue facing IoT. Privacy is another. Just like putting your personal data on the Internet and then having to spend a lot of energy to get the ‘wrong’ information out of Google again.

Take the example of temperature control. If you have your house full of temperature sensors and can turn on and off the heating from remote. The sensors will report a daily pattern, like warm between 6am and 8am, warm again from 5pm to 11pm on weekdays and from 7am to 12pm in the weekend. Then you go on vacation and have the heating turned down. The pattern is broken, constant low temperature and that indicates you are not at home. An invitation to burglars.

And what about interfaces? Right now companies like Amazon, MicroSoft, Google, Cisco and others are promoting their API’s which will let the various devices connect to proprietary data collection and monitoring systems.

In the report June 2015  The Internet of Things: Mapping The Value Beyond The Hype by McKinsey, it is found that the economic impact of IoT applications could be from $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion per year in 2025.

So it is understandable that all major IT Service Providers are active in this area. This also ties into the offerings of cloud based systems and services. We will be able to collect massive amounts of data, we must store it somewhere and compute it.

But how do we find the relevant data in this wast amount of data. If we take the temperature example, we would want to monitor thresholds and have actions defined when exceeding a threshold. Example, the temperature in a room rises above 38 degree C, 100 degree F. On a summer day it may not be a problem, on a winter day we may have a fire.

The extraction of data will require detailed specifications, in fact this is likely to create way more work than is required at present. So for individual IT people it may be a good thing.

What will happen in the next years is difficult to predict, but it is surely going to be exciting.

Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” (unknown)