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The Internet of Things – Where Is It Going?

With computing power hitting identification and miniaturization, here’s the reach of the Internet of Things (IoT).

January 30, 2015

With the computing power increasing year over year, the Internet of Things finds itself at the intersection of two waves: identification and miniaturization. Find out what is behind this complicated notion and how we experience the IoT.

In spite of being in the epicenter of all the tech blogs and IT related media, the Internet of Things is a much broader concept than it seems. The IoT is a digitization and augmentation of our physical world spreading in both business and private lifestyle. In this post I`d like to present my own understanding of the IoT and identify where we are today with its development, and where we’re heading.

The Internet of Things in a Nutshell

The Internet of Things is an intersection of the following segments:

  • Semiconductors, which, according to the Moore’s Law, observe 60% annual computing power increase year over year;
  • Telecoms at a rate of 50% of annual network bandwidth increase year over year, as derived from Nielsen Law and Metcalfe’s Law which presuppose that the value of network is proportional to the square of connected devices, entities, and people;
  • Big Data operating as based on the Law of Large Numbers as a known average probabilities for everything so that statistics is not needed anymore

So, the IoT happens in the middle. It’s impossible without chips, without networks of machines, devices, people, or without Big Data. But how do we experience the IoT? According to Bill Joy, one of the Unix creators, there are six webs of interaction with the IoT:

Here mobile phone, wearable gadgets
Near computer or laptop
Far projector and a screen
Weird new interfaces, for example gestures or voice interface in cars
Business to business (B2B) as well as global supply chains
Device to device (D2D) aka machine to machine (M2M)

But actually there is only one web (the classification above shows six different angels of it), as called by Kevin Kelly - One. In 3000 days there will be only one machine with one web as its operating system, and all the components communicating with each other to increase the value of One. The possibilities of this machine will be vast: from gathering data in different formats to parting videos without problems. Its functioning will be based on one simple principle: to share is to gain, because nothing lives outside the One. One is us; we will create a digital copy of this world. But 3000 days ahead is a long way to go, isn’t it? Now, let’s have a look where we stand now and what we can do today to make the One happen.

Technological Reach over Years

How have we ended up in the era of the IoT and where are we heading today? Let’s go through the five chronological waves:

  • In 2000, humankind came up with such inventions as bar codes, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), etc. which lead to optimization of control and tracking.
  • Late 2000s-2010 time span was dedicated to significant cost reduction within business verticals (such as Healthcare, Security, Transportation, etc.).
  • In 2015, we are at the intersection of two waves: identification and miniaturization of everything. Identification is ubiquitous, indoors and outdoors, (it’s not only RFID chips, and bar codes, and IP-addresses). It is heading to visual optical identification. Being extremely complicated, identification is still in the process of development. Today, we could reach only an 80% threshold of accuracy (namely, such companies as Google have already cracked CAPTCHA, but understandably not everyone can brag about Google-level capacities). We found out that deep neural networks didn’t help – so we tried harder; deep neural networks plus random forest algorithm helped a lot, but didn’t break through – so we didn’t stop. Today, Intel is working its finger to the bone mastering visual identification, so we are eagerly waiting for the result of their toil. Miniaturization means that everything becomes smaller with the same computing power and the same storage capacity, or the same size obtains bigger computing power and bigger storage capacity. So, miniaturization brings a lot of devices, humans, machines, and other things to a single spot. Instead of enforcing tools or rules, there are policies and those who control their implementation. The rationale is straightforward: technologies change too fast, hence to build something lasting, you should build policies. Policies are empowered by a specific technology with other technologies remaining agnostic.
  • In 2020, roughly speaking we will witness augmentation of our life with both software and hardware.

What Is the IoT in Practice?

We all know Uber, the newest wrinkle in transportation services. Is it the IoT today? No. May it be? Surely yes. Being a great example of personalized experience, in several years with the appearance of self-driven cars Uber will become the IoT in its broadest meaning. Here’s a comparison with what Uber is today and a significantly extended outlook of its future.

Even though the Internet of Things sounds as though it is an attribute of the IT world, this concept has reached far beyond a geeky workplace.

Conclusions

Understanding the concept of the IoT is not enough; you should also know how to design for it. Designing for humans, you should target Personal Experience, while designing for machines, apply Fog Computing. The latter will be a central point of my next blog, so stay tuned!

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