The Internet of things: the next platform for global innovation
By Nitin Dahad
The internet of things is likely to be a key technology driving innovation over the next few years. It’s a theme that’s grown over the last couple of years, and now in January 2013 we saw the launch of the ‘Internet of Things Consortium’, formed at International CES in Las Vegas, and after that, Wall Street Journal tech columnist and key influencer Walt Mossberg also highlighting the internet of things (IoT) as the ‘next big thing’ at a talk in North Carolina, USA.
The ‘IoT’ refers to devices of any kind connected with mobile or wireless to networks, enabling machine-to-machine communications (M2M). Mobile SIM cards or radio modules with Wi-Fi/GPRS can be embedded in almost anything, ranging from entertainment, safety and security, to business services. Put another way, the IoT or M2M communications is the networking of intelligent, communications-enabled remote assets, allowing key information to be exchanged automatically without human intervention via a back-end IT infrastructure. The remote assets, which can be fixed or mobile, include cars and truck fleets, utility meters, copiers and printers, ventilation and air-conditioning sensors, home medical devices, fitness monitors and CCTV cameras.
The conditions they monitor can include temperature, location, consumption, heart rate, stress levels, light, movement, altitude and speed – or anything else. This can be used to gain immediate feedback on how a particular remote asset is being used, which features are most popular and what problems typically arise.
Typical examples already common are in energy management and health and well-being: for example, smart energy meters remotely transmitting usage data or controlled by utility companies, or patient monitoring systems where key patient data can be transmitted automatically to a carer or care centre.