Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Internet of Things...will we get there?

I was first introduced to the Internet of Things (IoT) concept in 2008 while attending an experiment/presentation by a small tech team from France. The team was demonstrating spimes they had created; I was fascinated by the smart objects and have been following the IoT movement ever since. (And more recently, it's closely related and often used synonymouslyInternet of Everything.)

Spimes aren't mentioned much anymore but the IoT seems to be picking up steam, in the newsand social media at least, the past year. Many are hearing about the IoT in 2014 for the first time. I remember a similar resurgence in mainstream interest around 2011/12.

In 2011 Cisco published this post and infographic showing that the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on Earth and more. Still, we haven't really scratched the surface yet of what is being predicted. Some of us who have been following the IoT movement for a while are wondering if/when the predictions will come to pass.

A recent post by TechCrunch titled The Problem with the Internet of Things takes a look at issues surrounding some of our not quite yet smart objects and connected homes. 

Below is a five minute video about The Internet of Things by IBM. Published in 2010, it was the time I felt the most optimistic about IoT development.

Emerging technologies and concepts with huge potential (a world of connected things is a life changing concept) always pique my interest. I anticipate all kinds of possibilities and applications, especially health and educational applications. Educational technology has been a focus of mine for years as an academic librarian and adjunct instructor. Education (and our lives) would not be the same if the IoT comes to pass as many are forecasting.

To better understand the IoT and the potential impact on our lives and society, view the excellent 17 minute video below by Dr. John Barrett, The Internet of Things. Dr. Barrett explains basics of how the IoT works, and how it could enable new ways of interacting and learning with things we encounter in our world. Six practical and educational applications are illustrated (starting at 4:57 in the video). Hint, remember the Star Trek Tricorder

The most sobering aspects of the IoT are related to security. Dr. Barrett states "Security under the IoT has been called a shocking vulnerability, but it's also a major opportunity." In my own non-techie mind, I feel the security challenge, and privacy concerns for some, has to be a major roadblock to the IoT moving forward. 

Kelly Brown, IT Professional and Academic Director for University of Oregon AIM Program, looks optimistically at the opportunities for those with enterprising minds in his recent IoT post
There are ample opportunities for entrepreneurs who can not only come up with a way to embed devices in everyday things but also those who can develop the interconnection between devices and who can do a deep dive in to the data to create meaning.
He goes on to list "three important steps that need to take place to make the Internet of Things a reality." I do hope our schools and universities are providing students the skills that are needed to move us forward. 

This post provides good background information for those who would like to know more about the history of IoT: Brief History of the Internet of Things

The Fow Community has created a nice simple visual of the IoT in this infographic (click to expand). Notice the experts' predictions of where we'll be in 2020. Who do you believe? Will we get there? Comments are welcome.