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What is the Internet of Things? How it can change the way we live

Posted by: Schepisi - Monday, December 15, 2014

We briefly referred to it in our last blog post, but today we want to take a deeper look at the Internet of Things, illustrating its purpose using products and devices that already exist to help you better visualise it in action!

In its simplest terms, the Internet of Things is a interconnected network of devices that can wireless connect to the internet or use sensors to gather, decode and send information to other devices.

Its purpose is to create a connected world that helps individuals and groups live and work smarter, safer and more efficiently. 

Advanced connectivity goes beyond basic human-to-machine connectivity.


Examples of human-to-machine communication include:

— you and I (humans) typing on a computer (machine) which produces a word document
— a friend (human) typing a text message and sending it via smartphone (machine)
— you (human) input a destination into a GPS (machine) and it responds with the results you want - driving directions

The evolution of the Internet of Things means advanced machine-to-machine connectivity; where humans are not needed in the communication process (but will benefit from the data the two machines produce).

Still a bit confused? That’s okay! One of the better ways to visualise the Internet of Things is with first-hand examples of the kinds of technology – or devices – or Things – can be connected to the Internet... hence... The Internet of Things! (See where I was going with that?)

Right now, the connected devices under the Internet of Things umbrella are often split into two categories, wearables and non-wearables. 

The overarching aim of the Internet of Things is to create a home, workplace, town, and environment that is safer and more efficient, and in terms of wearable devices, healthier and fitter human beings.


The Internet of Things examples: visualise these non-wearable devices

BeClose Elderly Monitoring System:

This system uses sensors around the home to wirelessly track movements of elderly people at home. It is designed so caregivers or family members can keep an eye on an elderly person while still giving them the freedom and independence to live alone.

Data is collected and analysed before being sent to a family member or caregiver’s mobile phone, and the system offers real-time peace of mind.

WeMo:

WeMo understands how much we love technology. They’ve developed a system that connections you to your home even when you’re not there. You can set up a bunch of electrical devices and control them from your smartphone, wherever you are.

So if you’re coming home later than expected, you can turn a light on when you’re still on your way. If it suddenly starts raining but your sprinklers are on, you can turn them off. Not sure if you left the iron on? You can WeMo that!


Streetline:

This whole system is based on sensors, and its purpose is to indicate to drivers whether a spot is already occupied or not. Streetline's mission is to produce real-time data that makes “parking easier” and results in “reduced congestion.”

Sight Machine:

Again using real-time data, Sight Machine can see what’s going on in your manufacturing operations and identify faults immediately, unlike older reporting which can take up to 48 hours to be collated – often far too late to take action. Actionable analysis is designed to give you more reactive power so you can get the job done faster, more efficiently, and with fewer errors.

Sight Machine uses sensors, cameras and robots to collect data.


The Internet of Things: where does wearable technology fit in here?

Wearables seem to be taking the world by storm. From fitness trackers to glasses to interactive clothing and jewellery, you can’t read one tech website without learning about the predicted growth and popularity of this technology.

In fact, Gartner predicts there’ll be 25 billion connected devices – many of which will be wearables – by 2020.

So where does wearable technology fit in to the overarching umbrella of the Internet of Things? Think of it this way:

1. The Internet of Things is connected things. 

2. All wearables are connected things. 

3. But not all things in the IoT are wearable. 

So wearables are one category under IoT (the other category would, obviously, but objects you don’t wear, like the ones we’ve mentioned above.)

The three most well-known examples of wearable tech are:

• glasses that have similar capabilities to smartphones, but are worn, so you can view images, receive directions, and access news;

• fitness bands that measure your heart rate, calories burned, distance ran, making you an overall healthier human; and

• smart watches that allow you to instantly sneak a peek at email and text messages by wirelessly synching with your phone


We’re already conditioned to expect “anywhere access”

Technologies created with in-built WiFi and sensors are a given these days, production costs are lower, and smartphones are soaring in popularity. The freedom we get from smartphones has instigated this need in us to be connected wherever we are and from a multitude of devices, and we’ve seen that desire spread to the workplace and even to schools, namely the BYOD practice.

Need to check your email when you’re on holiday? Easy - your WiFi enabled smartphone can hook up with your hotel’s free WiFi and before you know it you’ve opened the Gmail app and you’re in your inbox.

On your way to a business meeting but need to make a last minute change to your presentation? Your files are in the cloud, so you can edit while you’re on the run.

Waiting in the foyer for a job interview? Last-minute research about the company or your potential new boss is right there on your LinkedIn app.

We’ve become conditioned to expect information at all times because technology lets us be this demanding.

It’s never-ending circle: we demand information because we can get it. And we can get it because we demand it.

Thank you to all our valued clients and partners for a wonderful year. We wish you all a happy and safe Christmas and New Year, and can't wait to see what 2015 brings. 

Schepisi is a Melbourne Telstra partner