When we talk about the Internet of Things, what exactly does that mean and what is part of it?
Using computers and peripherals are just a routine part of digital communications to most internet users. Machines converse in code to transport valuable data that converts into information that enables us to complete tasks, grow businesses or stay in touch.
The Internet of Things is larger than some people imagine, with millions of Things which all depend on the Internet- today’s “city that never sleeps”. “Things” include computers, phones (LAN and cellular), modems, routers, printers and other peripherals you use to conduct digital communications and their numbers are in the billions and growing. Gartner, the world's leading information technology research and advisory company, estimates that by 2020 there will be 21 billion Things on the Internet.
As the “old world” view of computers as purely mechanical devices changes, programmers and network architects solve problems beyond connectivity, including interface issues and the development of cloud technology. With these advancements in technology, new devices can live among the Internet of Things, too. Sensors have come to be welcomed as part of the family.
Cloud computing is the catalyst for expansion of the Internet of Things. It’s the truest form of virtuality, providing real-time and more mobilized communication which is the life of sensor technology and their incorporation into the Internet of Things. Without the cloud, sensors could not relay data back to computer bases via the Internet.
Sensors coupled with cloud technology are expected to make the greatest change we’ve seen so far, presenting new applications that make them an integral part of the Internet of Things. Here are 3 popular applications where sensor technology can improve our lives:
Auto manufacturers have been using them for years, first in the more mechanical sense to gauge temperature and fluid levels, but now some auto insurance companies take advantage of sensors to monitor driving habits- braking, acceleration rate, speeds driven- to reward you for safe driving.
Sensors play a part in safety when they are built into a structure. For example, a bridge can be built with sensors embedded that send information regarding stress from usage back to a computer database. As wear and tear occurs to a structure, the weaknesses can be detected before a life-threatening emergency occurs. Buildings in earth-quake prone parts of the world could be constructed with sensors that detect an impending disaster with more notice than we have now.
A very new development in crash protection for motorcyclists could save lives. Mohawk helmets are built with sensors that can detect a crash and send email alerts and SMS to emergency contacts, plus uses black-box telemetry to pinpoint the site of the accident. The Mohawk records data related to the crash and communicates with EMS teams. The rider doesn’t have to be conscious to reach out for medical assistance.
We’ve come a long way since the dawn of modern computers in the latter part of the 20th century. As with most technology, the sword has two edges; as sensor technology appears in our networks more frequently, we will see both new challenges to security for our Things on the Internet and a better quality of personal security.