The Internet already dominates every aspect of our work and social life. So what’s next for the Internet?
You may have already heard about the so-called “Internet of Things”. It has received a lot of hype recently with several tech-oriented media outlets hailing 2014 as the year of the Internet of Things.
The Internet connects us to our devices, enabling us to upload data. In the Internet of Things, however, data is transferred over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. It’s communication between two devices, or machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.
The concept has evolved from the convergence of wireless technology and micro-electromechanical systems. A thing, in the Internet of Things, can be a person with a heart monitor implant or a runner wearing a device that measures the distance and heart rate. It can also be a car that has built-in sensors to alert the driver when the tire pressure is low.
Here is a simple explanation offered by The Atlantic: “Companies can put chips in inanimate objects — cars, thermostats, refrigerators, light bulbs — that allow those objects to be connected to the Internet and controlled remotely.” Products built with M2M communication features are often referred to as being “smart”.
At the beginning of the Internet age, we had to use a mouse to navigate a website when we interacted with our devices. But the Internet of Things replaces these Internet-related actions. Our smartphones already have the ability to gather information without our awareness. The next step is to make our smartphones even smarter by having them remote-control our air conditioners, lighting systems, or home security without us giving any commands.
In fact, such technology is already a reality. We already have smart lightbulbs and smart fridges. But until recently, explains an article on Quartz.com, connecting a device to the Internet of Things was expensive and difficult. Smart thermostats, lighting systems and appliances from manufacturers like Samsung and GE communicated through wireless standards that required installing specialized wireless hubs.
In 2014 we will see a breakthrough of the Internet of Things, says the Quartz article. That’s because in the past year or so, tech companies have created inexpensive, power-efficient chips that enable pretty much anything to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi, or to a mobile phone via a standard called Bluetooth Low Energy.
Giant technology corporations are looking to cash in on this next big thing. The marketing language about the Internet of Things reflects their desire to dominate it. Cisco calls it the Internet of Everything, while at GE it’s the Industrial Internet. Other companies call it the Internet of Customers or the Internet of Nouns.
Whatever it’s called, you’ll be hearing a lot about the Internet of Things in 2014.