You wake up in the morning to find that your alarm went off 10 minutes earlier than it should do. Before you begin to protest or shout, a calm voice tells you the alarm electronically communicated with the road service. It found out there is a congestion in your way to work and it is better to get up early to avoid being late. You make your way to the kitchen for breakfast, you find the refrigerator is giving you the weakly shopping list it prepared according to the remaining items inside, you approve without regard to let the refrigerator to send purchase order to the E-Shop. You can open an application on your smartphone to start and warm up your car engine while you finish bathing under water its temperature sets electronically.
These are not the events of a Sci-Fi movie. But realistic applications of the Internet of Things (IoT) a term shaped in 2013. It came when internet technologies and networks intervened in our lives producing technologies like Wi-Fi, Embedded Systems and Microelectromechanical systems. These systems –introduced by different companies, led to the introduction of home technologies. We hear about things like automated homes, wireless sensors, central control systems and other technologies. Which are not entirely new; but directed today towards home use instead of being mere inventions trapped in science labs and in minds of Sci-Fi authors.
In 1982 at the time where the internet is beginning to appear in the world. The concept of a soda machine connected to the internet was discussed, which would be able to report its inventory and whether loaded drinks were cold. This was considered the first practical attempt for the IoT. As simple as the idea may seem, it hasn’t been practically applied.
In the 1990s, a groups of companies tried to provide normal consumer products and tried to merge them with the use of Internet. But it didn’t really work out, it was either very expensive or useless in providing a real difference.
In the second millennium, especially the second decade, things completely changed. We see a lot of products deal with the internet directly on our behalf like refrigerator, kitchen appliances and home control devices.
There is predictions that in the next few years, there will be a large increase in using of IoT products. May be for more luxury in our life, and to facilitate doing things you may consider routine, tedious or annoying. Or simply because we do not like to do it in the presence of “something” that can do it on our behalf.
Any device connects to the Internet via a unique address called IP (IP) address. And whether this device a desktop computer, a laptop, a smartphone, a networked printer, a digital camera, a smart TV device, a game console, an ATM machine, or even a household refrigerator. It needs an IP address for apps either dedicated to it or shared with a group of other devices; (in this case every device is assigned what’s called an internal IP).
According to the statistics of “Juniper Research” (Internet research company) 13.4billion devices connected to Internet around the world in 2015. By comparing this figure to the number of the world’s population of 7.4 billion, we can imagine that we now have computers connected to the Internet almost twice the number of the world’s population.
According to the same statistics, the figure expected to grow 285% to reach 38 billion devices by 2022. Which will be 5 times the world population at the time (7.7 billion people according to projections). These figures give a clear idea of what world would be like in the coming few years with the IoT.
What are the areas IoT can apply to? in fact, there are countless areas, IoT can help us achieve luxury and convenience we have never dreamt of. As well as facilitating routine, complex and time consuming tasks saving us a lot of effort and time we can use for entertainment, and even in more work and production.
Some of the following smart home applications of IoT are already available for consumers. Otherwise, some are in the final stages of development. While other applications will be available within the next 5 years, Among them:
The idea of self-driving cars has been around since the 1920’s; but the practical application was not possible until a few years ago (Starting 2010). You cannot mention self-driving cars without referring to Google project, the leader project in this field which is already developed to the extent that there are currently self-driven cars out on the streets of some American states.
Of course, Self-driving cars will need to communicate with each other to avoid collision. It would be through the internet with the help of Global Positioning System “GPS”. And you can imagine countless applications for the IoT in self-driving cars. For example, people would be able soon to request their cars through applications installed in their smartphones, they can instruct the car to go to the shop to bring some goods or even for putting some gas.
At the moment, there isn’t any modern car without GPS, which facilitates navigation and protect your vehicle from being stolen. It is also known that number of cars equipped with Wi-Fi that can connect to its owners is increasing.
Medical technologies have evolved so much in recent decades. Medicine has shifted clearly to the preventive method that works on avoiding diseases rather than just finding cure for it. IoT didn’t exclude the medical field for sure.
Expectations that in the next few years, the doctor-patient relation will be more interactive. Doctors will be able for example to examine patients’ vital signs remotely. They would be able to send him warnings or certain instructions based on these vital signs.
Smartphones and smartbands integrates techniques for measuring basic vital signs for the body (pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature … etc.). There is a rising number of applications using these techniques. It is just a matter of time before these technologies evolve to perform more complex measurements (possibly up to the stage of conducting blood tests, and measure the functions of vital organs, and various scans at home).
The evolving monitoring techniques will spare us visiting the doctor or going to the hospital. As soon as you get sick, you will contact the Doctor who will remotely communicate with devices around you to monitor your case and then prescribe the required medicine without even meeting face to face.
One the serious consequences of the penetration of IoT in everything that surrounds us is continuous violation of our privacy. At the moment we feel a little pinch giving out some privacy using technologies like smartphones, social networks and credit cards which doesn’t compare to what we could have in the future, where we would allow technology intervene in our most private matters and that will lead for sure to violation in our right of privacy.
At the moment, when a hacker tries to access you E-mail box or your social network account, the most that he gets is a bunch of mails or photos; with our lives turning bit by bit towards different IoT techniques. You can imagine what would hackers be able to do if they gain access to your home cameras or microphones. Imagine someone knowing what’s in your fridge, your shopping history, your wake up time and your way to work; it’s terrifying to just think about it.
Hackers are not the only ones who threaten privacy. Risks of repressive governments or multinational companies could be a lot worse.
IoT is a reality in the upcoming years, where our lives would definitely be different and easier with these technologies.