The internet was first conceived in the 80s as a collection of computers connected to each other by physical cables to share information. Then it evolved to include wireless and mobile devices such as notebooks, mobile phones and tablets. The next evolution will connect everyday objects, embedded with sensors and actuators, to enable them to send data to computers, other devices, or amongst themselves.
When common objects can both sense their surrounding and communicate, they become tools for understanding that environment and promptly responding to it.
In a July 2009 article on the RFID Journal, Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer who coined the term “Internet of Things” explained the idea behind it as follows: “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.”
To illustrate this further, picture these scenarios. Refrigerators with sensors that can alert us when certain items in the ref runs out and automatically sends a grocery list to our mobile phone. Medicine bottles that can detect when it has been opened and alert our doctor if we failed to take important medications.
Bridges that can monitor its condition and send signal when its time for maintenance. Wearable such as watches, rings, or even clothes that can monitor our pulse rate, blood pressure, sleep pattern and other vital data and inform our doctor when something is amiss. The application potential for the Internet of Everything is vast and varied, limited only by our imagination.
An Internet of Things research conducted by Gartner, an American information technology research and advisory firm, estimated that the number of Internet of Things devices connected will exceed 25 billion by the year 2020. Another technology giant, Cisco Systems, has created the methodology to count and track the number of connected devices. According to them, the number of connected things already exceeded 12 billion as of May 2014.
This will create more than $14 trillion in potential value during the next 10 years as the Internet of Everything gains momentum.
As with any new advances in technology, the Internet of Everything will introduce many issues and problems that needs to be resolved. One such problem is security – with the vast amount of data being collected, how do we ensure that these data does not end up in the wrong hands?
Another issue is privacy – what happens to our right to privacy when everything we do can be traced and monitored?
Another is environmental impact – how do we dispose of things embedded with semi-conductor devices that can contain heavy-metals and toxic chemicals? These and many other issues must be resolved quickly while the Internet of Everything is still in its infancy to prevent them from becoming major hindrances later.