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What Is The Internet Of Things?

Have you heard people talking about the internet of things and stood silently by, quietly asking yourself, what is the internet of things? The term itself does sound a bit odd, almost as if someone is using grammar incorrectly. After all, we don’t say things like the ‘mall of things’ or ‘store of things’ even though both a mall and store contain many ‘things’.

So what exactly is this Internet of Things?

Let’s start at the beginning and by the time we reach the end your curiosity will be fully satisfied.

Kevin Ashton: Innovator

The term, “the Internet of Things,” was first coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999. He is known as a consumer sensor expert and innovator that understood early on the role the internet would have in the world. His idea was basically that in the twentieth century computers were limited because they lacked one thing humans have; senses.

Ashton felt that while the computer brain was advanced, they lacked the ability to understand what was going on in the world around them unless someone told them. While a computer has the ability to process information at a rate that was millions of times faster than the information we could provide them, they were limited in waiting for that input.

That was until the internet allowed computers to sense things for themselves.

The evolution of the IoT

The Internet of Things or IoT has slowly evolved since the phrase was fist coined. It started with computers being connected to each other creating networks. The internet allowed larger and larger groups to be formed. From there wireless networks emerged allowing more connectivity.

This spread from desktops to laptops and then to smart phones and tablets and now what we would consider everyday devices that have the ability to connect, store, transmit, process and sense.

With virtually instantaneous transferring and processing of information now computers have senses that allow them to make decisions based on the information they are provided with. For example, GPS-base location sensing allows devices to recognize where they are in relation to other items. This was part of the revolution as GPS systems in cell phones started in 2004 and they ability and usefulness of the technology has grown since then.

Now we have so many things that are interconnected such as coffee makers, refrigerators, security systems, cars, lights, alarm clocks, vending machines and more.

The evolution of IoT has really come together due to the combination of connecting computers and sensors to allow more data to be gathered, processed, analyzed and then applied in useful ways.

Where does it go from here?

Many people feel that the Internet of Things is still in its infancy, but with tremendous potential for the future. Cloud-based applications allow apps to work anywhere and anytime. With that in mind it is just the combination of sensors being placed where they are needed to provide data that apps can then utilize to make life smarter, safer and better for everyone.

One current example that is being actively tested is weather sensors on roadways combined with automotive intelligence to create a safer environment for drivers. Most people are aware of the advances in what cars can do in regards to notifying drivers of objects in a blind spot or even braking when recognizing changed conditions that require the vehicle to stop. But what if roads were equipped with sensors that also relayed information to your car such as the presence of flooding or ice?

A hazardous conditions alert would go to the car and driver allowing the driver to slow down appropriately to avoid a dangerous situation. If you take that one step further, the car could even slow itself down if the driver failed to do so.

Or sensors that monitor traffic in busy metro areas could then direct cars that are going to a specific destination to routes that help alleviate congestion on the road. How about a sensor on your alarm clock that notifies the coffee maker to turn on and brew a cup after you stop hitting the snooze button then opens the blinds on a sunny day? Or smart parking that notifies your car of the availability of actual spaces base on the proximity of you and to your destination?

The creation of sensors for even the most mundane functions that then allow devices to effectively be smarter and make either programmed decisions or intuitive decisions based on user preferences or set parameters will have huge implications for the creation of new products and services that will have us moving closer to the types of things so far have only been depicted in the movies.

The bottom line is that the Internet of Things seemingly has endless opportunities and ideas that will change the way we look at things in the next five years creating both numerous challenges and disruptions to our lives along with some of the most interesting opportunities. Now you know what is the Internet of Things; it is the future in how we will work and live.

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