The Internet of Things – Beyond the Hype

Unless you have been living in a cave, the term Internet of Things (IoT) has reached your ears.  The term has been gaining traction, but a few questions come to mind when we talk about the IoT – 1. Is it just a Hype? and 2. Is there more to the IoT, or is this just a buzz word?

In my opinion, the IoT is more than hype, and we can expect to see it’s rise in the future.

What is IoT

Let’s pause for a moment and see what IoT is.

As defined technically – The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

It does make sense from the above definition, but let’s simplify the term – sensors & actuators connected by network to machines or computing systems.

It starts to make sense, when we see where we are actually going with the gathering of all the sensor data and process this data – to generate a whole new level of analytical data. Connecting each and every “thing” over the network with advanced sensors connected to machines, and using this data for the next generation of predictive analytics. The potentials are endless.

The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things – Beyond the Hype

Now – is the whole concept of IoT really a big hype?

In today’s connected world, there is a lot of data collected and not all of it is used. Imagine having an ocean of data collected with the help of smart and embedded sensors connected to each and every device. Let’s talk about simple examples here.

  • Smart traffic cameras sending real-time traffic data which can be processed and alerted to commuters to decide the best route to take.
  • Smart lightning using Power over Ethernet (PoE) can help provide interesting data which can be used to reduce the power consumption significantly.
  • Smart sensors installed on bridges and roads which can send real-time data to your car connected to wireless internet.

The potential impact is quiet exceptional.

But, the major concentration seems to be more towards designing a better Machine-to-Machine communication instead of better sensors. What can really make the difference is more advanced and smart sensors.

Let’s take a step back and see the bigger picture. IoT revolves around a network of sensors who talk to each other or machines and a cluster of machine or cloud computers which are readily available. We all know the advantage of cloud computing today. But what about the sensors?

Sensors are at the heart. Sensors are basically the smart devices responsible for collecting all the data. They are responsible to gather the data, evaluate the data and store or send the data to a machine for storage.

Now what’s the value of this data if we don’t have a proper infrastructure to hold the data. Cloud provides us with that infrastructure. Cloud is capable of collecting and storing a continuous stream of data thrown at it.

Now imagine these two coming together. An advanced network of intelligent sensors gathering data and sending it to the regional cloud infrastructure. The data is evaluated locally and combined with global data (if required). The analytical value derived from this data or the intelligence data being sent across locally on a real-time basis for better and faster decisions – the future is endlessly exciting!

IoT in Numbers

A few numbers to mention.  As per McKinsey Global Institute report, The Internet of Things: Mapping the value beyond the hype, the bottom-up analysis for the application estimates that IoT has a potential economic impact of $3.9 trillion to $11.1 trillion by 2025.

IoT toppled Big Data and topped Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. Even though it refers the word “hype”. But what it really signifies is that the market has a lot of expectations from an emerging technology.

Gartner (July 2015)
Gartner (July 2015)

Conclusion

To conclude – IoT is certainly the next big technology. With various organization already investing in the process of gathering data and storing them, we can see some good movement in this technology. Even though we say that IoT is gaining over Big Data, Big Data will be one of the biggest technology profiles for the IoT along with IoT Architecture, Managed Machine-to-Machine Communication Services.

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