Internet of Things

April 25, 2016

How many of us have a mobile phone connected to the internet? Tablet? Watch?

Ok, not all of us have a smartwatch, but perhaps a smart car, thermostat or a Wii? The list goes on. This, plus all the many, many objects that interact with the internet, commonly referred to as ‘smart’ devices, are what make up the internet of things.

It wasn’t so long ago that people would log on to a shared computer at work or at home and use it to process data, mainly number crunching, or written documents. More recently still, the internet began to get mobile, with laptops, phones, tablets and kindles. As the use of computers grew and they gained ease of transport their uses developed from mere admin tasks and simple games to storage devices for pictures, social networking & media players. Now, there are so many items that are built to connect to the internet and interact with data that the only way to describe their magnitude is to call them ‘things’.

At first glance, the term ‘internet of things’ may sound lazy, vague, or completely baffling.

However, it is not what it first appears. It is not a lazy way of explaining away a list of disparate items, but rather a best attempt at accuracy at the scope of smart technology. The quantity of products being developed to have enhanced features, enabled by connection to the internet, is overwhelming. Items you would never imagine have not only been considered for smart tech, but created and gained wide success. For instance, a company called Umbra Shading, which makes smart blinds. Their blinds utilise weather data to help regulate light flow in large office buildings… who knew?

And if blinds wired into the internet doesn’t surprise you, what about smart tractors? The manufacturing firm John Deere has been researching and developing the use of internet data for its tractors for many years. As Rory Cellan-Jones explains in his BBC radio show Tech Talk, their work has reaped some impressive benefits, with claims that their tractors can “can drive themselves to an accuracy of two or three centimetres”.

Currently, research firm Gartner estimate that there are around 6 billion devices that connect to the internet. The same firm calculate that by 2020 this figure will have risen to 20 billion. That really is a lot of things!

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