What is the Internet of Things?
The internet of things is known by many names – the web of things, the industrial internet. It is the next evolution of our current internet infrastructure based on advances in sensor technology, communication infrastructure and many other things.
The internet today, is dominated by human beings. We are the main generators and consumers of data on the internet. We are on social media, we are blogging, we are adding videos, viewing videos, downloading and uploading documents. The internet as it is now, is dead without us.
The internet of things world is instead a world where machines are the main generators and consumers of data. In this world, potentially, everything is connected to the network i.e.your car, your table, your door, your window. Everyday objects all connected the internet. Some embedded with sensors and others with actuators, all connected to the internet
Why the Internet of Things?
But why would you want – say your window to the connected to the internet, what could be the possible advantage(s)? Well, It might be you want to be able to open the windows remotely from anywhere in the world or you want to check if your window is open or be notified when a burglar is trying to open the window. That’s just one application but there are many possible others with different objects. All of this made possible by sensors, connectivity and actuators.
Internet of Things today
The first thing to get “pimped” to internet of things device (as in pimp my ride style) was the telephone. The product of this is the smartphone. What are the differences between a nokia 3310 and an iPhone? Internet connectivity is a major difference. In addition to internet connectivity, smartphones have several sensors – a typical smartphone has accelorometers and GPS sensors. All of these things together make it an internet connected thing. We already have services that make use of the data from your smartphone sensors for example Uber and Google Maps. More devices are set to make this transistion into smart things.
The Internet of Things Ecosystem
The internet of things applications are fostering the growth of a new industry. There are several technologies, companies, jobs that will be created as a result of it. I will highlight some of them below.
Companies – Intel, General Electric, Phillips Electronics, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Samsung
Sensors – RFID, GPS sensors, temperature sensors
Communication standards – Bluetooth Low Energy, WiFi, 4G LTE
Jobs – Data analysts, Emebedded systems engineer, Software engineer
How does the internet of things affect us in Africa, in Nigeria
It might seem all of this is very futuristic and not very relevant to us today. We have yet to get basic infrastructure like power and internet access still costs a lot but we stand to gain a lot by adopting Internet of things applications and having them in mind as we build our infrastructure. We can use these applications to solve our own unique problems. It can help with giving advance warning on floods, warnings on faminine. We can improve traffic congestion in our cities if all the cars are connected. We can monitor/prevent ourbreaks of diseases like Ebola and Cholera. Imagine if there was a kit that tested for diseases and automatically recorded all the cases of a particular disease. It would be easier to detect a spike in cases of a particular disease and therefore know when we have an epidemic.
The Internet of things in the future
The future is everything being interoperable and we using the data gathered to make smarter decisions. It is a world where we have extrasensory powers. We know the traffic anywhere by tapping into the earth’s nervous system that we have created with our connected things. The Internet of things is here. It holds a lot of promise and also some challenges ( security challenges, objects would become targets for hacking) . But we can use IoT apps to make our world a better place