The Implications and Potential of the Internet of Things

 Mykhailo Liubarskyi is a software architect and a lead software developer at SoftServe Inc. With over 9 years in the industry, he has extensive experience within the US and European IT markets. He is responsible for the development of management software products produced by SoftServe and has an M.Sc. in Computer Sciences from the National University in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

With all the interconnected gadgets, services, and applications running worldwide, what once used to be a good script for futuristic movies, is now becoming an inevitable reality. While the phrase “Internet of Things” is on everyone's lips, do we really know what's in the name?

Defining the IoT

No, the Internet of Things is not a simple network of different instruments and sensors connected to each other as well as to the Internet via wired or wireless communication channels. It would be an oversimplification to consider it so. The “father” of the concept of the IoT, Rob van Kranenburg defined it as a single network connecting real-world and virtual objects around us, claiming that all of the analog and digital worlds can be combined into a single interconnected system. It basically redefines the way “things” (anything existing and moving in space/time, whether real or virtual) interact, as well as their properties.

The very idea of the Internet of Things is based on the extensive integration of real and virtual worlds, where communication is carried out between humans and devices, and between devices without human intervention. It presupposes that in the near future "things" would become active participants in business, information and social processes where they would interact and communicate with each other by exchanging information about the environment, responding to and influencing the processes occurring in the outside world, with or without human intervention.

Based on Rob van Kranenburg`s four-layer scheme, we can speak of the IoT evolution from separate identifiable smart objects to smart units (combined into a smart house, for example) to bigger networks like smart cities, to encompassing the whole planet. Yes, it`s that sci-fi.

In other words, the IoT should actually be viewed as a multidimensional network, where small, loosely coupled, devices are grouped into larger networks where communication requires a special common language.

Challenges to Overcome

But before we come to the last stage of the Smart Earth in the IoT evolution, there are still a few challenges and issues we`ll have to solve.

  • The main problem today is a lack of standards, which largely complicates integration of the proposed solutions on the market and virtually blocks the emergence of the new ones.
  • Similarly, in order to function at full scope, such a network requires autonomy of all "things”, i.e. sensors must learn how to get energy from the environment, not powered by batteries or a power network, as is happening now.
  • The creation of a huge network that controls the entire world through a network of autonomous connected devices present in every home and has access to the world`s all open (or even secured) data could have unfathomable consequences. Before anything like that could be created, it`s necessary to think of reliable safety measures. And the sooner it will be done, the better, as the evolution of the Smart global network seems to be just a question of time.
  • It would also be necessary to start considering Security and Ethics related issues outside the world of movies and move the discussion into public attention through serious and trusted channels.

At the same time, the potential benefits of the IoT implementation are enormous.

With the global scale and unseen before speed of analyzing data, with each second of human life documented and stored (a thought both scary and fascinating), immediate diagnosis, and even prevention, of disease based on the wealth of the incoming clinical data could become a common occurrence. Epidemic and chronic diseases as well as many other threats challenging humanity could be successfully defeated. The new horizons opening for world`s science, health care, space and Earth exploration defy the boldest imagination. The new world might be closer than anybody could think.

ThyssenKrupp Elevator - Giving cities a lift with the Internet of Things

ThyssenKrupp Elevator have drawn on the potential of the Internet of Things and Microsoft technologies by connecting their elevators to the cloud, gathering data from sensors and systems, and transforming that data into valuable business intelligence. 



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