Inventions and technology have advanced humanity for thousands or years. The stone age where stones were widely used to make tools for hunting, making other tools and making stone arts. The bronze age is characterized where the discovery and use of bronze were utilized by ancient civilizations. It is also at this age that proto-writing and other early features of urban civilizations  have risen. The iron age marked  the prevalent use of iron and steel. The adaptation of these hardy materials coincided with other advancements in society that includes religion, agricultural practices and artistic styles. The Renaissance, a cultural movement between the 14th and 17th century where it encompassed the resurgence of learning  that was based on classical sources, the development and use of linear perspective in visual art, the development of diplomacy, the advancement of science through observation. This age is where Leonardo DA Vinci and Michelangelo became famous.

Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of water lifting devices. Image courtesy of www.marxist.com

Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of water lifting devices. Image courtesy of www.wikiart.org

The industrial age is the period that encompasses the changes in social organization and the economies of countries. The period began in Great Britain in 1760 where the traditional hand held tools were replaced by power-driven machines like the steam engine and the printing press. The age is also characterized  by the concentration of different industries in large establishments. Mass production, running water, modern medicine, broadcasting, the use of electricity and the rise of nation states al characterized this age. The information age or the digital age is the period where society is characterized by the shift from the industrial revolution to a society and economy that is based on computer computerization. This is our age. This is how we live now.  Technology has given us all the modern conveniences. It has made our life easier and made the world smaller. Communication and information have made huge jumps in advancements that with just a few clicks of a button or at a screen, swipe will give us the answer that we need. The information age has created a knowledge-based society which moves in a high- tech global economy that influence every sector to operate and function in a convenient and efficient way.

The Internet

With the rise of computerization, the internet was born. It was developed as a foolproof network that connects computers together. It was also designed to be resistant to any single point of failure. Most experts say that the internet cannot be destroyed on one event, and if some areas are disabled, all the information will just be rerouted. The internet has existed since 1969  but the intention of the  World Wide Web in 1989 made the internet what it is today. The internet has become a global platform and an essential tool in making, spreading and storing information faster.

Yes, its true. Image courtesy of www.queenili.com

Yes, its true. Image courtesy of www.queenili.com

Many technological infrastructures have been introduced because of the internet. Cloud computing, intranet, content management systems, social media, websites and blogging are becoming staples of our everyday computing.  Technology is heading where everything will be interconnected, from the garage, lighting, any home appliances, machines and humans. This is how the Internet of Things will somehow change the future.

Internet of Things, Another Techno Babble?

IoT or the internet of things has confused  many people. Internet of things…. Things of what? As many are asking. It or internet of things is a scenario in which objects, animals and humans are provided with unique or specific identifiers  which enable them to upload or transfer data over a network that does not require any human or human to computer interaction. It is also described as a concept that describes a computerized future where everyday physical objects are connected to the internet and are able to identify themselves to other type of devices. Another description of IoT is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable  or specific embedded computing devices that is used within the existing internet structure. IoT is also closely related to radio frequency identification, or RFID as the type of communication, although other types of sensor technologies, QR codes or wireless technologies can be utilized.

IoT by the numbers. Image courtesy of ams-ix.net

IoT by the numbers. Image courtesy of ams-ix.net

What is the “thing” in IoT? A thing or the thing in IoT refers to anyone having an RFID embedded in any part of his body that is used to automatically open doors, turn on cars and even vacuum the floor. It can also be a heart monitor, biochip transponder implanted in pets and farm animals, a vehicle with built in sensors to inform the driver of the vehicle’s tire pressure,  or a wiper that will automatically turn on when it rains and stops  when the rains go out. The Internet of Things is just getting started.

Some Applications And Future Uses

1. Health

High tech GloCaps that fit prescription bottles through a wireless chip can remind people to take their prescription and stick to their medical regimen. It can remind them of when to take the medicine, doctor coordination or when to have a refill. The Proteus ingestible pill sensor is powered by having contact with your stomach fluid. This sensor communicates a signal that determines the last time you took your medicine and the type of medicine taken. The info can be transferred to a patch worn on the skin that logs the information for you and your physician. You may not be aware of it, but your smartphone’s different sensors like compass, GPS, accelerometer and the connectivity features like Bluetooth, WiFi and others are prime examples of IoT, thus you have a well equipped IoT device in your pocket or purse that  can automatically track your movements, workouts  and location.

the patient and doctor connection. Image courtesy of www.meddeviceonline.com

The patient and doctor connection. Image courtesy of www.meddeviceonline.com

2. Industry

IoT systems  can also be responsible for  performing industrial tasks. For example, intelligent shopping systems can monitor specific users purchasing pattern or habits in a store by tracking their specific mobile phones.  Special offers can be provided on the products they usually buy, the location of the products or items they need or which freezer the item is stored an be sent through their phones. Sensors that are installed in heavy and industrial equipments can monitor any parts that may have exceeded their lifetime. The sensors can send reports to manufacturers of warehouse owners about it for proper replacement or repairs. Early warnings or predictions of possible malfunctions can be made and the proper service and maintenance performed to prevent failure and to keep the production line running without any costly delays. Sight Machine’s networked sensors, lasers and cameras in analyzing manufacturing processes can determine if a part  passed or failed based on the physical appearance of the product. It can also identify the correct component for a specific function or job, monitor trends, the variations and the relationship with the overall system.

3. Disaster and Recovery

IoT systems can also help us understand and manage the resources that we have.  The Floating Sensor Network of the University of Berkeley uses motorized drifters that are fitted with GPS, salinity sensors, cell communication and temperature sensors can be deployed in any disastrous events like floods in tracking the flood flow and movement. The Acoustic Landslide detector System (ALARMS) of the University of Loughborough is used in detecting any high frequency waves that is produced when there is soil or earth movement. It can also be used in calculating real time soil movement before a landslide occurs. This will help in sending the need alerts to communities and save lives in the process. The uniform system combines real time sensor data from the weather forecast, soil moisture levels and the usage of pesticides  from farming websites Sint a centralized and consolidated dashboard. Farmers can take advantage of this information with mapping information and advanced imaging is sporting any crop issues. It can also be utilized in remotely monitoring farm assets and the levels of resource usage.

4. Home Application

IoT can also be applied in automating buildings and homes. IoT can be utilized in controlling and monitoring electrical  mechanical systems in different types of buildings either residential or private. Building and home automation systems are typically used in controlling, ventilation, lighting, heating, air conditioning, communication systems, appliances, security and entertainment in enhancing the convenience, comfort, security and energy efficiency.

Smart house where almost everything is controlled in just a touch of a button. Image courtesy of www.ecnmag.com

Smart house where almost everything is controlled in just a touch of a button. Image courtesy of www.ecnmag.com

Indoor smart features. Image courtesy  of www.rtcmagazine.com

Indoor smart features. Image courtesy of www.rtcmagazine.com

5. The Ethical Challenges of Internet Of Things

Experts have predicted that the Internet of Things is the next big revolution. They have estimated that 50 billion connected devices and IoT systems and solutions will reach about $7.1 trillion by 2020. These are big numbers and with the continued implementation of IoT systems, it will raise some ethical concerns specifically security and privacy. It is said that the Internet of Things that it strives to close the gap between the rich and the poor. Some people say that it may have a reverse effect because IoT can discriminate against certain groups of people that does not have any internet access.  There are still many countries  that do not have access to the internet thus they will not be able to take advantage of the promises of IoT. Families that belong to the lower income bracket  will just have enough money to put food on the table and to live on a day to day basis. IoT  may also impede on someone’s privacy. Collecting a person’s information, habits and location are useful information for big data. But there may be some companies that have access to these tools that can invade a person’s privacy and use them as a form of business information to other companies. One such example is when search engine giant Google  share their confidential information with other companies. These companies will use this confidential for revenues even if the right to privacy is stepped on. Let’s say also in the future that RFIDs or any form of microchip is embedded in the population, the government, businesses and other agencies can have direct  access to any person. Big Brother is watching.

Hackers

Hackers are also excited as many people about IoT. IoT will be their new playground, this is according to Hewlett-Packard. HPs Fortify security application unit made an analysis of the 10 most popular consumer Internet applications and things out in the market today. They have found out that there are 250 security weaknesses  in the surveyed products with an average of 25 faults for each product. The names of the products were not disclosed by HP but they stated that the products ranges from home thermostats, TVs, camcorders, control hubs for multiple devices, home alarm, garage door openers, etc. These devices often run on a stripped-down Linux OS, which should have the same securities that are in place when running. The thing is that people building these basic Linux OS are doing it as compared to a traditional computer. According to HPs VP and general manager of Fortify Mike Armistead, manufacturers are rushing to get their products out in the market without making the necessary security and locks on their devices against any kind of attacks. Armistead also stated that it will also magnify the problem  if one device or product is compromised, the overlapping weakness can lead to an attack and then to another. It will have a domino effect on many products. HPs research subjected each device using their Fortify on Demand service that tests software for any possible security problems. With an estimated 26 billion devices connected by 2020, it will a hackers playground. But you have to take note that there will always be counter measures in preventing hackers from causing damage and chaos.

IoT devices that will be connected by the year 2020. image courtesy of www.futuristspeaker.com

IoT devices that will be connected by the year 2020. Image courtesy of www.futuristspeaker.com

IoT may make The Jetsons world into reality when computers, smartphones, tablets and almost everything around us connected. IoT is a world where just about anything can be connected and able to communicate with each other. IoT will make the world one big information hub.

About Author

Jon specialises in research and content creation for content marketing campaigns. He’s worked on campaigns for some of Australia's largest brands including across Technology, Cloud Computing, Renewable energy and Corporate event management. He’s an avid scooterist and musician.