Internet of Things

internet of things by CHRISTOPH NIEMANN

The Internet of Things refers to uniquely identifiable objects (things) and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term ‘Internet of Things’ was first used by British technology pioneer Kevin Ashton in 1999.

The concept first became popular through his Auto-ID Center at MIT, which created a global standard system for RFID (radio-frequency identification) and other sensors. RFID is often seen as a prerequisite for the Internet of Things. If all objects and people in daily life were equipped with radio tags, they could be identified and inventoried by computers. However, unique identification of things may be achieved through other means such as barcodes, QR codes, and advanced computer object recognition.

Equipping all objects in the world with minuscule identifying devices could be transformative of daily life. For instance, business may no longer run out of stock or generate waste products, as involved parties would know which products are required and consumed. One’s ability to interact with objects could be altered remotely based on immediate or present needs, in accordance with existing end-user agreements.

Ashton’s original definition was: ‘Today computers—and, therefore, the Internet—are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings—by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code. Conventional diagrams of the Internet … leave out the most numerous and important routers of all – people. The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy—all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. And that’s a big deal. We’re physical, and so is our environment … You can’t eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank. Ideas and information are important, but things matter much more. Yet today’s information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.’

Internet of Things (IoT) is an integrated part of Future Internet (a general term for research activities on new architectures for the Internet) and could be defined as a dynamic global network infrastructure with self configuring capabilities based on standard and interoperable communication protocols where physical and virtual ‘things’ have identities, physical attributes, and virtual personalities and use intelligent interfaces, and are seamlessly integrated into the information network. In the IoT, ‘things’ are expected to become active participants in business, information and social processes where they are enabled to interact and communicate among themselves and with the environment by exchanging data and information ‘sensed’ about the environment, while reacting autonomously to the ‘real/physical world’ events and influencing it by running processes that trigger actions and create services with or without direct human intervention. Interfaces in the form of services facilitate interactions with these ‘smart things’ over the Internet, query and change their state and any information associated with them, taking into account security and privacy issues.

An alternative view, from the world of the Semantic Web focuses instead on making all things (not just those electronic, smart, or RFID-enabled) addressable by the existing naming protocols, such as URL. The objects themselves do not converse, but they may now be referred to by other agents, such as powerful centralized servers acting for their human owners. The next generation of Internet applications using Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) would be able to communicate with devices attached to virtually all human-made objects because of the extremely large address space of the IPv6 protocol. This system would therefore be able to identify any kind of object.

Ambient intelligence (electronic environments that are sensitive and responsive to the presence of people) and autonomous control are not part of the original concept of the Internet of Things. They do not necessarily require Internet structures, either. However, there is a shift in research to integrate the concepts of the Internet of Things and autonomous control. In the future the Internet of Things may be a non-deterministic and open network in which auto-organized or intelligent entities (web services) and virtual objects (avatars) will be interoperable and able to act independently (pursuing their own objectives or shared ones) depending on the context, circumstances or environments. Embedded intelligence presents an ‘AI-oriented’ perspective of IoT, which can be more clearly defined as: leveraging the capacity to collect and analyze the digital traces left by people when interacting with widely deployed smart things to discover the knowledge about human life, environment interaction, as well as social connection/behavior.

One Comment to “Internet of Things”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s