The Internet of Things (IoT) covers all different objects that are capable, at the very least, of identifying themselves in a digital format. It means that every tool, box, device, computer, or object that can send its identification to other devices, belongs to the Internet of Things. Of course, an object can send more information than just its identification: sensors (temperature, light, humidity, vibration, etc.); its status (a bin warning it is almost full); or even receive commands to react to the environment (a valve closing water supply, a heater system beginning to heat your house before your arrive home).
All this information is sent and received through the Internet, so it can connect people with people; people to objects; objects to people; and objects to objects. This communication to the Internet is done in multiple ways, from direct connection using ethernet cables, to complex Wireless Sensor Networks, where devices communicate wirelessly to each other to reach an internet connected node.
With the falling cost of technology, more and more IoT products will appear in the near future: The cost of RFID tags, used to track goods and manage inventories, fell by 40% in last 18 months and now cost 10c (US). Sensor technologies have fallen by up to 80% in the last 5 years. Also, communication devices are falling in cost: a few years ago, WiFi routers were expensive; now they cost less than $50.
In addition, the ubiquitous presence of smartphones is boosting IoT, enabling people-to-object, and object-to-people communication. Now it is possible to control an air conditioner at home with a smartphone located anywhere, or to switch off an alarm system as your smartphone crosses your doorstep.
To add all these new devices to the Internet, new Internet Protocol (IPV6) was introduced in 2012. With this new protocol, there are trillions of unique addresses available, enabling every single object to have an identifier with no restrictions. It is said that we could label every atom on earth, and there would still be plenty of unused addresses!
These IoT products will enable new markets and platforms for new business services. As these objects produce more and more data, without data management and analysis technologies like Big-Data and Cloud Computing, the data would be meaningless. Furthermore, the interconnection of different objects without human intervention is fostering a landscape of new applications and markets.
Note: An extended version of this article has been published on CMSWIRE.COM. Read it here.