Internet of Things (IoT), is a concept that transcends the technologic, referring to billions of digitally connected objects. But what is Internet of Things? What does it consist of? How does it affect us at the technological and social level? In this article we will try to answer these and other questions related to this technological phenomenon.
It is indeed a natural evolution towards digitalization. In recent years, connected objects are growing exponentially, and the forecast are of even greater growth. Gartner’s most recent estimates predict that the IoT market will exceed 20.400 million connected objects, which will represent a total expenditure of billions of dollars of devices and services around the world.
An exponential market still incipient, whose numbers overwhelm, that besides its enormous advantages, poses new problems that represent authentic technological and security challenges, not to mention its social component.
Its objective? In theoretical terms, it is about having all the majority of the objects permanently connected to Internet to improve its functionality, among other possible utilities, including those that go beyond a particular use.
In the near future, it is expected to be able to connect objects in networks that facilitate their integration, in order to make everything intelligent and connected, including people, processes and data. Managing large amounts of information to provide useful knowledge for day-to-day or for other purposes that ultimately also seek the common good is a less utopian goal.
Origin of the term IoT and its potential
The term was proposed by Kevin Ashton, manager of Procter & Gamble, at the end of last century, concretely in the Auto-ID Center of MIT celebrated in 1999, where investigations were made on the radiofrequency identification in network and sensors technologies.
Since that first and decisive impulse, in which Ashton had a lot to do, almost two decades have passed and the concept has become popular in parallel with the dizzying growth of the phenomenon, whose revolutionary component has generated great enthusiasm.
Let´s not exaggerate affirming that the IoT promises to transform the world and, with it, also ourselves. Above all, considering the impact that the Internet has already had, one of the most important inventions of humanity; both in our lives and in society, since IoT constitutes a key technological development within the Network of networks.
What is Internet of Things? A brief definition of IoT
Before addressing the potential of IoT, it is important to make a parenthesis to define what is Internet of Things briefly from what has been pointed out. Thus, the Internet of Things refers to the possibility that any object is connected to Internet.
Although at the beginning it was limited to computers, smartphones and tablets, in recent years the number and variety of connected devices has increased exponentially, among other large and small appliances, bulbs, thermostats, game consoles or surveillance cameras.
Likewise, we could give an endless list of objects of the professional and industrial field equally connected or connectable and, going further, we can state that the Internet of Things also covers the people, since it modifies their way of acting and to relate, as well as Social, industrial and business processes.
Therefore, IoT means a collection of unlimited objects permanently connected in a digital scenario aim to be all intelligent by managing large amounts of information.
Within this context of Big Data, focused on people ultimately, the end of IoT is to focus on both personal and social utility. Therefore, this tendency will focus on the person, seeking maximum personalization, without losing sight of the possibilities offered for social progress.
Among other goals, in order to improve the management of cities, make them more livable and sustainable, in addition to boosting the economy in general with new business opportunities or, for example, providing an extra sustainability.
It is, a transcendent concept, whose development represents the next evolution of the Internet, of great utility to transform data emitted through sensors in valuable information. Its usefulness has great potential, oriented to make our life easier thanks to an innovative multi-device management as well as providing data that can be used in applications of different types at individual or aggregate level.
A future full of possibilities and challenges
Beyond the technological possibilities that allows and creates this new market, in turn drives all kinds of sectors, industrial and professional level or Smart City environment, for example, the IoT is beginning to change the way we live.
The changes are already important, as useful as they are surprising, so much that they acquire an inevitable futuristic look, influencing as much in the interpersonal relations as in the way in which we relate to the machines and robots that we have around us.
These are just a few steps, but there is no doubt that the human-machine connection is one of the most promising fields of IoT, creating positive synergies with the increasingly fruitful artificial intelligence. With the great advantage that intelligent sensors can be more, to the point of making decisions for themselves, improving their efficiency.
From a broader perspective, the present and future of IoT depends to a large extent on the evolution and interactions between the pieces of the puzzle that make up this Big World in which we live, always under the aegis of the digital era: from the Big Data, Big Analytics, Data Science and Data Governance, let’s say, until the Internet of the things that concern us.
A potential that can only be usable in the best way, facing both technological challenges as well as risks and social needs posed by this new reality, in which information is essential for progress, in addition in giving us the desired gold coin of the digital economy.
The fact that large data are one of the new engines of economic and social value creation should not overshadow the potential risks that it also entails. Among others, the one of the energy efficiency, an aspect still not solved, or also the one about the security.
With regard to the energy problem, its solution could come from the parallel development that is taking place in renewable technologies in response to an increasingly warm world. The global struggle against the advance of climate change in the world, therefore, constitutes a favorable framework for such an objective.
It will be easier to achieve as we move forward in the current transition that suppose the abandonment of fossil fuels to a low carbon society. On the other hands, security is another IoT battle horse, since the impact of IoT threatens to violate the privacy of data.
The same IoT boom is making the data to increase more, while in many cases there is a lack of sufficiently secure technologies, among other factors that makes them vulnerable. And, therefore, are data especially susceptible to be hacked.
Definitely, given the positive impact that this new paradigm is having and will have, it is probably a matter of time before this and other obstacles are saved. Only then the IoT that is already here will be able to develop its full potential without assuming a negative impact difficult to bear, offering us, unprecedented possibilities in the history of humanity.