November 15, 2016
The next big “THING”
- Have you ever thought of unlocking or locking your home door from your car?
- Your coffee maker automatically brewing coffee once you wake up?
- Your car automatically notifying the other people in your next meeting of your delay, if you are running late?
- Your car automatically optimizing the route based on traffic?
- Or your lights changing their color to reflect your mood?
While these scenarios have been so far been limited to sci-fi movies, the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) is going to make such things possible for common people. The Internet once was a luxury but now it is almost a necessity like water, electricity or phone service. The evolution of the Internet to mobile communications has advanced the human society manyfold. The Internet has brought us “anytime” connectivity, and mobile communications has brought “anywhere” connectivity. Now with the introduction and further evolution of IoT, connection to “anything” is becoming a reality.
The main idea behind the Internet of Things is to encompass physical objects into the Internet by providing computation, communication, sensing and actuating capabilities. In simple terms, the IoT is an extension of the Internet; it enables things to connect, communicate and interact with each other. The IoT is a result of technological advances over the past several decades.
According to the Cisco Corporation, in 2009 the number of devices connected to the Internet surpassed the world population, and it also predicted that by 2020 we will have 50 billion devices connected to the Internet. This increasing number of devices connected to the Internet will disrupt many business sectors in the near future. McKinsey has reported that the annual economic impact of IoT will be in the range of $2.7 to $6.2 trillion by 2025.
You might be wondering, why connect billions of devices to the Internet? The real value of the IoT lies in the data generated by the devices. This data can be used for extracting intelligence using cloud computing and data analytics to solve real-world problems. For example, the IoT can help build Smart Cities, where traffic is intelligently managed to reduce the commute time for residents and help build Smart Homes, where energy consumption is optimized and security is improved. With IoT, the imagination is the limit.
Graduate Student, Computer Information Systems
Research Assistant, Cyber Security Institute
University of Houston-Clear Lake