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What is the The Internet of Things? 5 Key Facts

You may have heard of the recent phrase buzzing around in tech circles - the “Internet of Things.”  While this sounds like quite a silly name, it refers to the scenario where people, objects and even animals possess unique identifiers, which enables them to transmit data over a network, without interfacing with any other human or computer.  Owing to the use of wireless technology and rugged servers, the Internet of Things (IoT) (sometimes known as the Internet of Everything) has developed into a complex network with unlimited possibilities. It evolved from the convergence of wireless technology, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet.

1) The IoT is All-Inclusive

Using this terminology, the Internet of Things, there is no limit as to what type of “things” can be included.  A relevant “thing” could be a human with a wireless heart monitor, livestock implanted with biochip transponders (i.e. a wireless or  control device that picks up and responds automatically to an incoming signal) or even a car which can alert its driver when its tyre pressure is too low. In brief, a "thing" is anything which can be measured via a sensor, possess a unique IP address and be transmitted, either via wire or wirelessly.

2) Machine to Machine Transmissions Are The Most Common

Most of the IoT of today comprises machines communicating with other machines.  This is often abbreviated to M2M. For example, a great many machines used in power production, manufacturing and the oil and gas industries, already transmit data to one another in order to provide time-sensitive information which is key to their operation. For instance, a rugged server (built to withstand extreme conditions) on top of a weather station could wirelessly record and transmit data to a ground-based, meteorological team. These types of M2M devices are often referred to as smart.

3) Traffic Increases Prompt Security Concerns

As a direct consequence of the advancements in both IP technology, and the availability of data nodes which actively capture data and transmit it to a server somewhere, security issues are now coming to the fore.  As the traffic levels increase more and more and individuals record and transmit data for their own personal reasons, issues like privacy and data security are flagged more and more, as the IoT continues to evolve.

4) Advances in IP Address Technology

For the purpose of accessing, or being accessed by users of  the Internet, you need a unique IP address which is assigned to your website or computer.  Formerly, this was a simple numerical address.  However, the Internet has now advanced to such a point that in theory a unique IP address could be given to every atom on the Earth, and there would still be many addresses left.

5) The IoT Is Not Something New

Even though the “Internet of Things” phrase was not coined until around the years 1999/2000, or thereabouts, in practice it has existed for a number of decades.  In fact, the very first machine equipped for the Internet was a soda machine built at Carnegie Mellon University in the early 1980s.  Programmers were able to connect it via a network to check the status of the machine and see whether their favourite beverage was in stock in the machine, before making the trip across to get it.  

Picture courtesy of www.smartdatacollective.com

 

 

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