The Internet of Things

Connected door-lock, you can open with your mobile

Connected door-lock, you can open with your mobile, Image Credit: Flickr User calypsocrystal

“I’m right at the corner, please switch on the lights,” says the car to the house.

“Run the load,” the cell phone reminds the washing machine.

“Well, you could cook up a spicy bean and tomato soup today,” the refrigerator gives you a dinner idea.

Sounds like an exciting world, doesn’t it? Where even things like your main door and your phone and your oven and your watch speak to each other. Such devices use the Internet to connect with one another and us. Devices have built-in wireless connectivity so that they can link up to the Internet. This kind of network built with modern technology is known as the Internet of Things.

A connected fridge recommends what to cook based on whats inside

A connected fridge recommends what to cook based on whats inside, Image Adapted from Pixabay user ClkerFreeVectorImages

Why do we need such a Network of Things?

The Internet of Things opens up a new way of being connected. Imagine getting warned about an Earthquake coming your way. Mobile phone Apps can be designed to raise alarms at the first sign. The apps connect to warning devices already in use. Sensors in forests can sound an alarm in case of forest fires. Or devices can even report leaks in water pipes.

Satellite sensors pictured Idaho Wildfire 2013 (File Photo)

Satellite sensors pictured Idaho Wildfire 2013 (File Photo), Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

A wide variety of objects can be hooked on to this network. Scientists say that by the year 2020, billions of devices will be on the internet. Even toys are going to get smarter. A toy car company has developed a component called ATOMS. ATOMS has three parts to sense, apply logic and to create output. You can connect them to any toy car. ATOMS then lets you remote control your car’s movements through a mobile phone app. Isn’t that super!

What makes the Internet of Things?

Four basic stuff form a part of the Internet of Things:

1. Sensors that can detect signals from the environment.
2. Software to read the data from the sensors. The Software will use the data to make decisions.
3. Software to manage the device that contains the sensors.
4. An internet connection that allows the device to transmit its data.

Check out this great video by Open Interconnect Consortium that shows some interesting use cases of Internet of Things.

The role of OIC in IOT is to define ways by which two devices can connect with each other and talk with / understand each other.

Security and Privacy

Just like everything on the Internet, the device will have a unique address. It is similar to the web address of your favorite website kinooze.com. And like the World Wide Web that we use, even the Internet of Things faces security threats.

Now imagine if a house has an air conditioner that switches on or off by sensing whether someone is home or not. What if a burglar could find out the unique address of the AC? They can then read the data about the house being empty or not and use it to rob the house. We need to be careful. Just like we use security software on our computers, we will require to apply protection on such devices as well (Also Read: Who are Hackers)

Some years ago, it was common to need to reboot our computers whenever the Software crashed. People joked about how we’d have to ‘reboot’ cars too. But, today, Software has become much more stable. They make our dumb devices smart and interactive. And with proper control, they can make our daily lives easier and more comfortable too.

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