The Internet of Things is a simple concept to understand, but a very powerful concept to implement. When people speak of the Internet of Things, they are referring to any device that can be assigned an IP address and connected to the internet. Technology included in the device can transmit data over the internet. Also, the device could receive data from the internet and be identified by a unique IP address.
The Internet of Things spans a wide variety of potential technologies. This includes security cameras, doorbells, refrigerators, televisions, wearables, and sensors placed on vehicles. You may be observing that your smartphone, and possibly iWatch or another device, is connected to the internet. While this fits in with the idea of the Internet of Things, the idea is to add internet connectivity to ordinary objects.
Examples of IoT:
The so-called smart home was one of the earliest ideas that quantified what the Internet of Things would mean. A smart home would have all its devices and appliances connected to the internet. This could have practical applications, such as allowing the resident of the home to turn on lights and heat or air conditioning before returning home.
Some aspects of the smart home are limited to practicality. Apple includes a software library called the HomeKit, which allows developers to create software for the iPhone that would allow the user to control various home appliances while either on-site or remotely. These types of systems could also be integrated with Siri or Amazon Alexa to allow voice commands to control various devices.
Using CO2 sensors, office buildings and homes could be made more efficient by automatically turning on lights and heating/ cooling systems when a given room is occupied, while automatically turning off devices when the room is not occupied.
Energy efficiency is one hoped for application of the Internet of Things. Some utility companies have been installing “smart meters” that can be used for two-way communication, not only providing the energy company with information about energy use in the home but possibly even allowing the energy company to set energy usage allowed in the home. Already, many utility companies throughout the country have installed systems that allow them to monitor electricity and gas usage without having to send someone on the property to check it directly.
Ring Doorbells and Security Systems
Home security systems have traditionally used phone lines to connect with security companies and/ or police. Recently, however, these companies are looking to take advantage of the internet for security purposes. An internet-connected security system can send information out via the internet if a window is broken or there is a forced entry through a doorway. Also, residents can purchase home security cameras that can be connected to the internet to monitor the property when they are away from home.
The ring doorbell system is a doorbell with a camera system connected to the internet. This enables the resident to view people coming to the home even when the home occupant is at a different location. Some people have raised privacy concerns, as police are reportedly tapping into the ring doorbell system to monitor neighborhoods.
Vehicles can be connected to the internet. For example, a device on the car can monitor speed and driving habits and transmit this information to the insurance company for analysis. Other applications include the automatic collection of tolls and even communication between vehicles on the road to reduce the probability of an accident. Similar technology could be used with self-driving cars. The company can also monitor transportation fleets used by companies remotely. This can be used to develop more efficient ways to operate, potentially saving large amounts of money.
Wearable technology has started catching on, first with simple devices like the Fitbit, and more recently with more sophisticated and comprehensive technology like the Apple Watch. Such devices can be easily connected to the internet. Some people envision using these devices as real-time health monitors that could contact emergency services if a major health problem is detected.
Some health monitoring will take place via wearable technology; however, some have proposed a “smart toilet” that could analyze waste products and determine whether they represent a possible health problem, and then contact the doctor. For example, blood could be detected in urine or feces, possibly indicating a urinary tract infection, kidney problem, or, in the latter case, colon cancer or a bleeding ulcer.
It is expected that the Internet of Things can play a large role in improving the care of the elderly, often allowing more elderly people to remain living independently in their own homes for longer periods. This can include assistance with managing the house such as lighting and heat/ cooling systems. Also, the elderly will be able to be tracked for health problems with devices that can detect medical issues as they arise.
Big Data and IoT
These are just a few examples of the many devices that could be used in the Internet of Things. There is no question that with everything from smart homes to wearable technology, huge amounts of data will be generated. Already, even though many of these technologies have not been widely adopted, it is estimated that 4.4 trillion GB of data is generated per year by IoT.
To analyze all this data, big data must be called in. This data will be streamed in real-time as sensors found in people’s homes, on their bodies, or in the infrastructure of the cities in which they live collects and sends real-time data. This will be a complex problem to deal with because the amounts of data are staggering.
The data generated by the Internet of Things will be unstructured and received by the companies and sent for data processing. How the data is processed will include Hadoop MapReduce and Spark.
The biggest challenge with big data and the Internet of Things is the latency problem. The data will be streaming in real-time, and it will require very fast analytics to process. Many experts believe that available technology will be stretched thin by the massive amounts of data collected in real-time using the Internet of Things.
The way the data is processed will be familiar. It will be analyzed to spot hidden patterns and trends in the data, along with correlations not obvious to human observers. Companies can use this information to provide customers with better products and services that meet their needs more efficiently.
One way it is hoped the Internet of Things will benefit customers and businesses alike is with the capacity to receive real-time data on the performance of consumer devices, whether it’s an automobile, refrigerator, or washing machine. By collecting huge amounts of real-time data from devices as they are being used, companies will be more able to predict coming faults, and they will also be able to build more reliable devices in the future. Being able to detect problems earlier will also help companies deliver better customer service. It is also expected that, to a certain degree, having internet-connected devices will enable them to repair themselves, at least in certain situations.
Big data combined with the Internet of Things is likely to revolutionize the healthcare industry. It will enable healthcare providers to provide remote diagnosis capabilities. Also, there can be improved patient monitoring in real-time, allowing doctors to spot problems earlier, and even possibly delivering medications remotely.
Companies that have delivery fleets like UPS can use the Internet of Things to closely monitor the use of their vehicles. This will help them identify points where efficiency can be increased, while closely monitoring driver behavior. Waste can be significantly reduced, and each driver can be monitored for driving habits, for example, noting if they speed or drive roughly in ways that would be detrimental to the vehicle.
The Internet of Things is not a concept without controversy. Many people are concerned with privacy issues. If data is being constantly streamed from your home, it has the potential of being hacked. Some people are even worried about companies and even governments abusing systems like this, with the ability to reach into the home and make changes to appliances or adjust the thermostat. The potential for hacking also looms large with cameras. It remains to be seen whether the Internet of Things will be accepted by the general public. The recent explosion in concern over privacy issues related to social media companies has put this into doubt to a certain extent. Even the ring doorbell has generated a lot of controversies, even though it seems like a basic and common-sense idea.
Many people are beginning to be put off regarding the idea that they will be monitored all the time. Already, people are getting uncomfortable simply being tracked while they are browsing the internet. If your refrigerator can be monitored too, then this is sure to generate much controversy among the public, and it is not clear that people will eagerly adopt such new technologies.
At the time of writing, politicians in the United States and Europe are falling all over themselves talking about regulating the big technology companies. It is unclear where all this talk will lead. Some politicians think they can solve the privacy issues by breaking up the big tech companies. However, this is certainly not going to stop the development of these kinds of technologies, and it might even make privacy issues worse since the information will not be controlled and analyzed by the big companies but might find its way into multiple hands.