Unpacking “the Internet of Things”

July 29th, 2014 by - 3,265 views

If you’ve paged through a business or technology magazine in the past several years, you’ve definitely come across the term “Internet of Things” while looking for news on Big Data. But what does it actually mean? Unpacking the term can be a hefty but necessary task to push the cloud computing concept into the zeitgeist, which many believe will happen in the near future.

Deconstructing an oft-confused term and exposing its true meaning.

Deconstructing an oft-confused term and exposing its true meaning.

What is it?
According to Techopedia, the Internet of Things, or IoT, is “a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.”

Still sound like a science fiction movie? The truth is, devices are already being programmed and designed with this eventual goal in mind. As Wi-Fi spreads to become more convenient and working across multiple platforms becomes the norm, society will gradually inch closer to being one with the Internet of Things.

“The term is closely identified with RFID [radio-frequency identification] as the method of communication, although it may include other sensor technologies, wireless technologies, or QR codes,” the definition continued.

Consider how cloud hosting already impacts our everyday lives via information sharing on mobile devices as well as interaction with Big Data through the way we are marketed to, how we receive information every day, and the way we consume our media. Technology is becoming ubiquitous: many public spaces are now equipped with Wi-Fi and even our televisions and houses are “smart” enough to interact via security systems, for example. In many ways, we’re already well on our way to achieving this future that sounds straight out of a Hollywood script.

When will it become a reality?

Not surprisingly, there’s no exact answer for when the Internet of Things will be considered complete and normalized in our global culture. First, continual achievement in technology needs to reach a stage where there’s less room for error, and second, industrialization needs to transform the amount of access remote and undeveloped areas have to Internet-friendly devices.

Forbes contributor Mike Kavis wrote a recent piece about misconceptions surrounding the Internet of Things and explained that by 2020 there will be a $3 billion market for the cloud infrastructure-based technology. However, he felt that many people still didn’t fully understand the objectives and implications of the IoT coming to life.

‘There are a wide variety of data types that IoT can inspire,” the source explained. “One of the most common is location-aware data. Location-based information typically comes from wearables… Sensors report on conditions such as temperature, humidity, moisture, motion, velocity, activity, sound, and much more.”

This is where the Internet of Things meets Big Data: by enabling the devices around us to collect information about us, we can analyze information and transform these learnings into technology developments or better metrics for a company’s next annual report. Kavis cited other areas like health care, transportation, and agriculture as sectors that could eventually be improved and defined by IoT by increasing efficiency and using data analysis to inform marketing and other business decisions.

All things considered, it’s no wonder that the “Internet of Things” is causing such a buzz in the tech community – it has the ability to transform how we think and interact with the world around us and integrates the devices we’ve come to love so well. Although only time will tell whether IoT will truly capture the world’s attention, there will be plenty of interesting developments to watch in this area in the coming months and years.

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