One of the technological advances with the most potential in recent years is the “Internet of Things” or IoT. The possibility of connecting all kinds of objects to a network and creating connections between them to optimize our time is a field that is still developing. The creativity of programmers plays a key role in shaping our near future.
Although much remains to be invented, the Internet of Things is beginning to sneak into our lives. It is already a lot more present in our daily lives, even though we may not even think about it.
How the Internet of Things Will Change Our Lives
TheInternet of Things is no longer a future term, of which we speak in theabstract, it is more than a current trend that will gradually change both ourdaily routine and our way of understanding technology.
Today we have smartphones, tablets, laptops, televisions ... all of these are connected to the Internet. But the Internet of Things goes further; it means that the network reaches all things, that everything is connected to the Internet.
Thereare already refrigerators, ovens and washing machines that can be controlledfrom a smartphone thanks to its Internet connection but that is only the firststep of everything that the Internet of Things offers us.
Bothprofessionally and domestically, the Internet of Things could changeeverything.
Both professionally and domestically, the Internet of Things could change everything, from our way of working - automated tasks, to how we navigate in our homes.
What would it be like to have your toothbrush alert you to your tooth decay and schedule your dentist appointment for you. Or to have your refrigerator inform you of food near it's expiration or what is running low and prompts you to stock up.
With the potential of the Internet of Things, our cities will also be smarter. Our cars could communicate with traffic signals prompting a speed reduction, instructing manoeuvres, analyzing the flow of movement amongst, transport and people to achieve the most efficient traffic management.
The Internet of Things is changing how we live.
Meaning and genesis of the "Internet of Things"
Internetof Things (IoT) is a neologism used in telecommunications, a new term born fromthe need to give a name to real objects connected to the Internet. The meaningof IoT is expressed well with examples: For example, IoT is a refrigerator thatorders milk when it "notices" that it is finished. IoT is a housethat turns on the heat as soon as it hears you arrive. These are examples ofIoT, i.e. objects that, when connected to the network, allow the real andvirtual worlds to be brought together.
The term IoT ("Internet of Things") is used for the first time by Kevin Ashton, a researcher at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) where the standard for RFID( Radio-frequency Identification) and other sensors were founded. But even if the term is new, we have talked about these concepts for a long time, basically from the birth of the internet and the semantic web.
But what does IoT mean in practice? With the Internet of Things, we mean a set of technologies that allow you to connect any type of device to the Internet. The purpose of this type of solution is basically to monitor and control and transfer information and then perform subsequent actions.
In the city environment, for example, a detector located in a street can check the street lights and indicate if the lamp works, but the same light could, if properly equipped, also report information on air quality or on the presence of people.
Areas of application for consumers and businesses
The main areas of application of the Internet of Things (both for end consumers like me and you, for companies and manufacturing) are represented by those contexts in which there are “things” that can "talk" and generate new information such as for example:
- Home smart home, home automation
- Smart buildings, smart building, building automation
- Industrial monitoring, Robotics, Collaborative Robotics
- The automotive industry, automotive, self-driving car
- Smart health, healthcare, the biomedical world
- All areas of telemetry
- All areas of surveillance and security
- Smart city, smart mobility
- New forms of digital payment through objects
- Smart agrifood, precision farming, field sensors
- Animal husbandry, wearable for animals
Whatwill we see in the future? Smart cities, more agile efforts, long processesthat will take place in a matter of seconds ... Tomorrow is still to beinvented and we are excited about the idea of being part of the change.
Presentand future of the IoT
Howmany objects are connected?
Major research companies, such as Accenture among others, argue that more than 25 billion IoT devices will be reached by 2020.
Manyoperators in the sector believe that the number will be largely exceeded andthis already represents an extraordinary business opportunity for all operatorsin the sector.
Authors such as Adrian McEwen (with the book Designing the Internet of Things) talks about creativity and IoT, and how the next winning ideas and products will need to connect everyday objects with the internet and technology.
Andas the spread of devices and sensors grows, even more, the amount of data thatwill have to be managed grows and the number of applications that will have tobe developed grows.
Fromthis point of view, an important business opportunity can be foreseen in termsof spreading development platforms and also in terms of connectivity solutionsand in this respect we can already see growth of very important interest bytelcos. Another fundamental area of growth is represented by systemintegrators and consulting companies.
IoTmeans integration and opens up very important perspectives in terms ofreviewing company information systems. Also from this point of view, the IoTwill represent an important development opportunity.
After several years of curiosity and experimentation in the Internet of Things, people are finding that they have different degrees of application: the most consolidated realities, the experimental ones and the embryonic ones.
Examples and applications of the Internet of Things in real life
Fromthe refrigerator at home to the clock, to the traffic lights, everyone can beconsidered examples of IoT. The important thing is that these objects areconnected to the network and that they have the ability to transmit and receivedata. In this way, these objects become "intelligent", and can beactivated and deactivated "on their own" and as needed.
For example, in Switzerland, there are intelligent traffic lights, which turn green when they "see" that a vehicle is nearing traffic lights, and that there are no other passing vehicles.
This, like others, are examples of how objects take "life", and how these objects can be connected to each other and to real-life everyday. Here is the future described by Orwell and dystopian novels, in the present.
Theseconnected devices and objects can inter alia connect to data analysis software(for example, Google Universal Analytics) and in this way transmit data andinformation from real-life directly to computers and analysis software. Leadingthe way to Big Data.
There are many examples and applications of IoT, from smart cities to companies.
Below are examples of the Internet of Things in everyday life.
1. Smart City
Smart cities (some call them sensitive city) relates to urban planning strategies that improve the quality of life in the city to try and meet the needs of citizens.
The technologies adopted to create smart cities (or parts of them) allow relating infrastructures (objects) to fulfil the needs of the inhabitants of the city. Examples of this are intelligent traffic lights (which turn green when there are no cars running in the opposite direction) or innovative systems for waste management and disposal, other environmental, energy, mobility, communication and urban planning innovations.
The sectors in which there are greatest interest are industrial and public administration. The whole world of Smart Cities is accompanied by issues related to public administration projects and more strategic issues such as those related to Open Data.
2. Smart Building and Smart Home (connected houses and buildings)
The substantial differences between buildings and smart homes are that, smart homes are aimed primarily at a “consumer” public or final users of services (examples can be to regulate the temperature of the home remotely, or sensors surveying for people in the house.)
Smartbuildings are mainly aimed at B2B or the construction and optimization ofbuildings and offices, to equip them with intelligent objects that interactwith the internal environment (for example light management and electricity).
The world of Smart Building continues on a double track, with a component that looks mainly at the domestic world (smart homes) is turning it's attention phenomena towards the consumer world and a professional component (smart building) that has now become the common heritage of development and design by designers and architects.
3. Smart Mobility
Thetheme of mobility is absolutely central to determine the quality of life in ourcities and as has been emphasized several times, there can be no Smart City ifthere is no Smart Mobility.
There are many companies that are heavily investing in this sector, in the dimension of Smart Car and Connected Car but also applications related to the world of rail transport with trains controlled by IoT, it opens up huge business opportunities.
4. Smart Agriculture
Whatis the impact of the Internet of Things on the environment?
Precision farming or Smart Agriculture is one of the sectors with the highest development opportunities for digitized solutions.
This is a sector that requires sensors for the environment and the land, for example applications for weather, automation of equipment for the increasingly precise management of water, fertilizers and crop protection products, which all need digital solutions.
The possibilities are vast and not only linked to the use of drones as commonly seen, but also to sensors that compliment the themes of IoT to innovate logistics and drive solutions for Smart Agriculture, agro energy and operations that aim to improve the relationship linked to food and sustainability.
5. IoT and Public Administration: transport, energy, sustainability, waste, environment
Today, public administrations play a fundamental role in the development of technical affairs. Often technology is regulated, financed and managed by the public sector as seen with the development of Intelligent Transport Systems.
6. Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0
SmartManufacturing also called the 4.0 Industry.
Smart Manufacturing overlaps with the Industry 4.0 world, though work is still to be done to implement development policies to influence the introduction of digital in the industrial world that was born in Germany with the Industry 4.0 phenomenon. Industry 4.0 has also made ground in the United States with the phenomenon of the digital factory.
Industry 4.0 or 4.0 Industry has real life research data that shows how this market is growing. At a rate of 20% growth, this is evidence of how the manufacturing industry is changing with IoT.
From the Internet of Things to Smart Products
TheIoT is the starting point for the realization of connected products. Objectsthat "network" their ability to collect information in any context.
When the connected products are «connected» to a production system that already operates in a production phase, they allow the product to access data that enables the connected products to modify the PROCESSES. When the connected product is added with a processing abilities (even minimal) these become Connected and Intelligent products. So we enter the Smart product range: SMART PRODUCT = CONNECTION + INTELLIGENCE.
But when can we say that Smart Products change companies and competition? When, there is a SMART PRODUCT ECOSYSTEM - A network of intelligent products that put the result of their respective processing capacity online to create new services and new value for users.
In 2015 the “How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Companies” by Michael E. Porter and James E. Heppelmann appeared on the Harward Business Review HBR, dedicated to the perspectives of the Internet of Things in terms of developing smart products that change companies while the previous year the same authors published “How Smart, Connected Products Are Transforming Competition” which analyzed the impact of competition of Smart Product development companies.
The Internet of Things economy is realized not only when costs are reduced and efficiency is increased, but when new services are created for businesses and consumers.
Cybersecurity: from the IoT to the Internet Security of Things
If it is true that by 2021, as Ericsson's forecasts support, we will have 1.5 billion Internet of Things devices with cellular connectivity, most of which with 5G solutions, new business will open for mobile operators linked to initial data collection, then to the data communication and, not least to the analytics data associated with the IoT.
As connected devices increases, the data produced increases. Unfortunately, in the face of scenarios that increase business and wealth opportunities, threats will also increase, which will also bring about general security problems and the security associated with the protection of personal data.
Toaddress the issue of security in a new way, interest is growing in edge datacollection solutions that act as a security endpoint.
The Internet of Things is effective and productive only if each system interacts with others - integration requires control, scalability, flexibility, efficiency. And the answer to this security question comes primarily from the data themselves, or rather from the ability to know more and more. More precisely the needs that underlie the projects to effectively design solutions that best enable them to achieve those objectives without minimizing exposure to all known risk factors.
The IoT is, on the one hand, a new source of threats but also a source of data and knowledge to reduce exposure to risks.
Connected objects and growth of the semantic web
In terms of implementing the simplest solution, a diffusion approach continues to show strong growth.
In December 2011 almost all the meters installed in Italy were smart and the objects connected to each other by the cellular network were 3.9 million: 10% more than the previous year.
Today the most relevant area is the Smart Car, the connected objects related to this technology are 43% of the total connected objects. It is expected that this percentage will rise next year, significantly with regards to the monitoring applications of cars for insurance and mobility info purposes.
Itshould also be mentioned that, with the Internet of Things, as well as issuessuch as privacy and security, terminologies such as:
- IPv6 (successor to the IPv4 Internet Protocol) which simplifies configuration and management of IP networks.
- Cloud computing, or the technology that allows you to save data on a virtual cloud (cloud) where these data can be found without the need to be on a physical machine, such as a desktop computer or a laptop
- Big Data, which has already been discussed- a large amount of data available now that the objects are connected and are communicating data on their use. This theme, in particular, raises doubts about the security deriving from the IoT, and on topics such as privacy and processing of personal data and sensitive data.
With the IoT towards Intelligent Manufacturing
Bringingintelligence to the manufacturing world means creating new value forbusinesses. Thanks to the Internet of Things and thanks to Industry 4.0,digital becomes a tool that allows the improvement of products and processesand allows the development and implementation of new business models.
With thanks to an IoT that " communicates " with the CRM and Data-Driven Enterprise projects, we can guarantee and develop the centrality of the customer experience in a context in which more than 80% of consumers agree to pay a premium price in exchange for better user experience.
Inaddition, the product that turns into service is "good for business"and brings new value, so much so that most manufacturers believe that the"product as a service" will help to increase profits. But toimplement these scenarios it is necessary that companies are not only connectedbut at the same time are able to support and spread the development of relatedproducts.
Here it is important to read and analyze the experiences of those who are in reality "doing" and are interpreting the digital transformation and serialization in the manufacturing world: Intelligent Manufacturing contributes towards the data economy, there are connected products and serialization thanks to IoT.
In conclusion, we observe that from utilities to healthcare, from production to public administration there are now many sectors and fields of work involved in the technological innovation of the IoT (Internet of Things), with different levels of maturity.
Inthe future, the wave of IoT will spread further, and it is expected that notonly IT devices and home appliances, but also a society where everything willbe connected to the network will come.