The Internet of Things is a futuristic technology in which interconnection of devices and the Internet is proposed. It can make possible the automation of many daily chores. This Techspirited article explains the working of this technology, its applications, as well as its pros and cons.
“The IoT is removing mundane repetitive tasks or creating things that just weren’t possible before, enabling more people to do more rewarding tasks and leaving the machines to do the repetitive jobs.”
― Grant Notman, Head of Sales and Marketing, Wood & Douglas
Imagine a scenario when:
- Your fridge can identify that you have run out of milk; it contacts the supermarket and orders the quantity you usually need, and also informs you by sending a message on your phone!
- Your alarm rings at 6:30 am; you wake up and switch it off. As soon as you switch off your alarm, it conveys to the geyser to heat water at a temperature you prefer and also the coffee maker starts brewing coffee!
- You are on your way while returning home from work and you use an app on your mobile to switch on the lights, the AC in your home, and tune the TV to your favorite channel so that your house is ready to welcome you before you even open your door!
Sounds like science fiction right? Well, the Internet of Things (IoT) can now turn this fiction into a fact!
The term ‘Internet of Things’ was first put forward by Kevin Ashton as the title of a presentation he made at Procter and Gamble in 1999. Also referred to as The Internet of Everything, it is a proposed setup in which existing, common day-to-day inanimate objects like machines and appliances and also people and animals will be connected in a network and will be able to exchange data.
Objects and machines will be able to send and receive messages to each other, eliminating the intervention of humans.
These objects will contain embedded technology, and the means of communication will be RFID (radio-frequency identification), wireless technologies, and even QR codes (Quick Response codes). They will be connected within the current framework of the Internet. Every device connected to Internet of Things will be uniquely identified by its IP address. The IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) will have to be used as this kind of a network will generate a huge requirement of IP addresses, and the currently used Ipv4 is incapacitated to include them. The brains of these objects will be sensors. These sensors are microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) that will respond to changes in temperature, sound, humidity, pressure, motion, light, time, weight, etc., and take the necessary action that they are programmed to. This information can also be sent to a data center where it can be analyzed.
This technology has a lot of applications in various fields. Following are some possible areas where we can leverage the power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to solve day-to-day problems. However, it can be put to many more uses.
The IoT can be used to monitor the vibrations of buildings, bridges, and monuments in case the building material is threatened or overloaded. Noise pollution can be controlled around hospitals and schools. It can be used to manage traffic especially during traffic jams, peak hours, accidents, and rains. It can be used to manage street lights―automatically switch them off in the presence of sunlight and switch them on at the onset of darkness. Another good application is alerting the officials to empty the trash bins when filled with waste.
The IoT can be used to remotely control and program the appliances in your home. It can be useful in detecting and avoiding thefts.
By using this technology, we can automate manufacturing processes remotely. It can also prove useful in optimizing the production processes. We can manage the inventory and the supply chain. We can also diagnose if the machines require repair and maintenance. We can monitor the emission of toxic gases to avoid damage to workers’ health and the environment.
We can use this technology to identify health problems. The patterns of heart rate, pulse, digestive system, and blood pressure can be monitored and diagnosed for anomalies. The information can be sent to the doctor for analysis. The hospital can also be contacted in times of emergencies. This system will be very useful to senior citizens and disabled people who live independently.
A very important application of IoT is detecting pollution and natural calamities. We can monitor the emissions from factories and vehicles to minimize air pollution. We can track the release of harmful chemicals and waste in rivers and the sea, thereby arresting water pollution. We can also keep tabs on the quality of water being supplied for drinking. We can send warnings of earthquakes and tsunamis by detecting tremors. We can keep the water level of rivers and dams under surveillance to be alert in case of floods. The detection of forest fire is also possible with this technology.
Automation of daily tasks leads to better monitoring of devices
The IoT allows you to automate and control the tasks that are done on a daily basis, avoiding human intervention. Machine-to-machine communication helps to maintain transparency in the processes. It also leads to uniformity in the tasks. It can also maintain the quality of service. We can also take necessary action in case of emergencies.
Efficient and Saves Time
The machine-to-machine interaction provides better efficiency, hence; accurate results can be obtained fast. This results in saving valuable time. Instead of repeating the same tasks every day, it enables people to do other creative jobs.
Optimum utilization of energy and resources can be achieved by adopting this technology and keeping the devices under surveillance. We can be alerted in case of possible bottlenecks, breakdowns, and damages to the system. Hence, we can save money by using this technology.
Better Quality of Life
All the applications of this technology culminate in increased comfort, convenience, and better management, thereby improving the quality of life.
Loss of privacy and security
As all the household appliances, industrial machinery, public sector services like water supply and transport, and many other devices all are connected to the Internet, a lot of information is available on it. This information is prone to attack by hackers. It would be very disastrous if private and confidential information is accessed by unauthorized intruders.
As devices from different manufacturers will be interconnected, the issue of compatibility in tagging and monitoring crops up. Although this disadvantage may drop off if all the manufacturers agree to a common standard, even after that, technical issues will persist. Today, we have Bluetooth-enabled devices and compatibility problems exist even in this technology! Compatibility issues may result in people buying appliances from a certain manufacturer, leading to its monopoly in the market.
The IoT is a diverse and complex network. Any failure or bugs in the software or hardware will have serious consequences. Even power failure can cause a lot of inconvenience.
Lesser Employment of Menial Staff
The unskilled workers and helpers may end up losing their jobs in the effect of automation of daily activities. This can lead to unemployment issues in the society. This is a problem with the advent of any technology and can be overcome with education.
Technology Takes Control of Life
Our lives will be increasingly controlled by technology, and will be dependent on it. The younger generation is already addicted to technology for every little thing. We have to decide how much of our daily lives are we willing to mechanize and be controlled by technology.
This technology, just like every other technology, has its advantages and disadvantages. We have to be well-equipped to leverage its power while not letting it control us.
The Internet of Things seems an intriguing concept, and is ready to revolutionize our daily lives. According to Gartner Inc., it is estimated that by the year 2020, around 26 billion devices will be connected to it!