Just What Is the ‘Internet of Things’?
The Internet of Things (IoT), which can be defined as an environment in which animate or inanimate objects have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction, has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, Micro-Electromechanical Systems (MEMS) and the Internet. A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be an automobile that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when wiper fluid is low, a free-range dairy cow with a biochip transponder, a person with a heart monitor implant, or any other man-made or natural object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network.
Just as 1990s’ fixed Internet evolved to connect one billion users, and the 2000s’ mobile wave phenomena connected another two billion, the Internet of Things has the potential to connect ten times as many or more proverbial things to the Internet by 2020. Forecasts predict somewhere from 41 billion to 80 billion connected devices worldwide, in the next fifteen years. However, in just a year or two, IoT devices ranging from connected home thermostats to luggage to socks (yes, I’m serious), will outnumber the number of PCs, smartphones and laptops globally, blurring the lines between hardware, software, and mobile. Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Google, believes that the Internet, largely due to the evolution of the Internet of Things, will eventually disappear from our consciousness, as it becomes a part of our everyday environment. “There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it,” Schmidt said.
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