The world wide web has been around our entire lives (for millennials, that is). Many aspects of our lives are shared wirelessly to other people through various forms of social media on the internet. We post pictures of our recent vacation trips, how we feel about certain topics, and even the food we are about to eat. With the touch of a button we can connect with people from around the world. Recent trends show this connectivity is transferring to various technological devices as well. Known as the “Internet of Things” (IoT), machines that gather data are now communicating with each other via internet which allows the creation of new insight from the combined data that would not have been otherwise possible in a single system1. Not only is this newfound communication useful in controlling devices remotely, but it can also help improve the quality of our lives as large amounts of machine generated data are analyzed to provide unique insights about the usage of the overall system.
The Internet of Things concept is used to create smart homes, wearable technology, smart cities, and even automated self driving cars2. The commonality between these examples is that all of the devices listed are used in a certain ecosystem to connect to the internet. This key feature helps each device “talk” to one another and figure out how best to maximize the user experience.
Take the concept of self-driving cars, for example. Each car needs to communicate with other cars, traffic signals, and various road signs near it. A single car should know the appropriate speed to maintain on certain roads, the directions of where it needs to go, where its position is relative to other cars, how to react to pedestrians, and much much more. By connecting various sensors on cars and road signs, they would be able to send data to one another and, with the right software, understand when it is appropriate to perform certain functions (drive, slow down, stop, etc.) It is difficult to coordinate all of these aspects, but definitely not impossible, as seen by the ongoing efforts of Google3. The Internet of Things is what makes it happen. It may seem like this concept is one taken straight from a science fiction novel, but it may soon be the reality we come to live in.
- Kopetz, Hermann. Internet of things. Real-time systems.Springer US, 2011. http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-1-4419-8237-7_13 307-323.
- Meola, Andrew. Internet of things devices, applications & examples. http://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-devices-applications-examples-2016-8 (accessed 10/08/2016), part of Business Insider.
- Google self-driving car project. https://www.google.com/selfdrivingcar/ (accessed 10/08/2016), part of Google.