The internet is moving away from our computers and mobile phones and into our household appliances. As technological advancement improves, there is an increasing demand for the internet to allow us to control every facet of our lives electronically i.e. using apps on our smartphones.
Kevin Ashton, cofounder and executive director of the Auto-ID Center at MIT, first mentioned the Internet of Things in a presentation he made to Procter & Gamble in 1999.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.
By 2020, the Internet of Things is expected to comprise 30 billion connected devices. The most recent example of a user experience with AI-based Internet of Things projects is by Mark Zuckerberg, The Chief Executive Officer of Facebook.
Mark built his own AI-based Autobot which runs his home , he built a system which allows him to control various devices (cameras, toasters), home systems (like lights, doors, thermostat) through a messenger bot and an iOS Voice app.
IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), micro-services and the internet. The convergence has helped tear down the silo walls between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT), allowing unstructured machine-generated data to be analyzed for insights that will drive improvements.
Generally speaking, when a new revolutionary product is released, the innovativeness is limited to a specific category as seen in the case of the Apple iPhone.
The Internet of Things, on the other hand, can and will affect any electrical device in the world assuming the said device will possess IoT compatibility. Another way in which the IoT is much different is that it moves around over several points of interaction and usage.
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Although it is powered by the internet, it runs by using code, software and programming language but manifests itself via actual devices.
Listed below is a selection of some of the best innovations in the IoT technology:
1. Wearable technology
Wearables refers to all those smart connected devices that we wear on our body or carry as an implant in our body system, and that collects personal data from us. Fitness trackers and smart watches are the most popular type of wearable devices.
Taking a deep consideration into wearable technology for health with devices that help us control our blood pressure, stress levels, fertility, weight and sleep.
Personally, I’m not sure I would love having somebody that forces me to run faster or to change gears on my bike, but I’m sure athletes and very fit people can see the value added. Also, the technology itself is quite fascinating! And there are many, many more devices that allow you to track all your vitals.
Besides healthcare applications, wearables are evolving into the future of payment systems as seen in the case of the Apple Play on the Apple Watch, or Android Wear etc. According to some tech facts Wearable payments are expected to reach $100bn by 2018.
2. Smart homes
The Internet of Things is also about all smart home appliances from smart thermostats such as Hive, intelligent fridges to other connected sockets.
One product that produced a lot of hype this year is the Amazon Echo. It’s basically a wireless speaker, so you can stream music, radio etc. to it, letting you control your music without picking up your phone or walking over to your laptop, you can ask for the weather by saying “Alexa, what’s the weather?” or get other information, a bit like Siri in iPhones, Cortana in Windows mobile.
You can also install “skills” developed by third parties (similar to smartphone apps). For example, the Uber skill app can help to order a ride but our main focus is on skills in respect to a smart home i.e. an Automated home. If you have a smart thermostat such as Hive, Philips Hue lights or anything using Samsung’s Smart-Things, you can download a skill and then, use Amazon Echo as an Autobot to control them all. The Echo then becomes the central control hub for your smart home, with a sentence in form of an instant message or a voice command we can turn off our lights or warm up our houses.
3. The Internet of Things hacking
Beyond all doubts, the Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack against Dyn was the most unforgettable Internet of Things scandal of the year. The culprits were poorly designed and constructed devices that allowed a major interruption of infrastructure and therefore of other internet-based services. These hackers exploited major security flaws in several user devices to force thousands of devices to connect via Dyn’s servers, leading to the DDOS situation.
In conclusion, the major challenge is that the current supply chain for gadgets doesn’t have any mechanism for fixing software. The lifecycle of a gadget usually begins with a long trip from a manufacturing plant to a warehouse and finally to the user. It’s not usual for up to 10 months to unfold between assembly and first use.
Another challenge is keeping track of it all. It’s hard enough to keep in-check the batteries in the smoke detectors every time or having to wonder about our toaster oven, our clothes dryer, and pretty much everything in the house. Is the software up-to-date? Have all the security patches been applied? The number of devices is making it harder to do anything intelligent about monitoring the home network.
Giving these devices the chance to run arbitrary code is has its own merit and demerit. Developers should let users have maximum flexibility, the platforms should be open this will ensure that the maker revolution and open source creativity flourishes.
Consequently, this also gives virus writers more opportunity than ever before. All they need to do is find one brand of widget that hasn’t updated a particular driver and hurray! they’ve found millions of widgets vulnerable to their attacks.
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