The Internet Of Things, a connexion to the Future
The Internet Of Things, a connexion to the Future
What is the Internet of Things (IoT) ?
The IoT is a worldwide infrastructure for the society of information that create evolved services by connecting objects/ devices. If it seems a bit obscure to you it’s normal, in fact it’s very simple. The Internet of Things represents the connexion between devices so they can bring a better and more complete user experience.
An IoT system is composed of four components : a sensor, the connectivity, the information or data processing and a user interface. Each of them creating a process inside the system in order to detect it environment, understand it, process it and give an adecuate answer to a stimulus.
- The Sensor
It is made to collect the data about the environment, with different levels of sensibility regarding the type of needs the IoT system is supposed to answer. For example, it can calculate the level of noise of a video, analyse a photograph or a video.
But a sensors is not only made to just be a sensor. It can have several other uses or purposes. A Smartphone is a sensor for an IoT system but can also be a camera, a GPS, a microphone…etc. The objective of the industries is to offer a complete device, with features that can be developed as a first step inside the connectivity.
- The Connectivity
Once the stimulus is collected by the sensor, it has to be sent to the next component so the device ccan give the correct answer. This process also offers the possibility to stock the information/ data to be analysed an used to know more about how people themselves react certain events.
Most of the time it is available in a Cloud dedicated to this use by the company/ software. It can go through different type of network. Phones Networks, Satellites, WiFi, Bluetooth, Low Power Wide Area Networking (LPWAN) or even Internet. The choice of the route mostly depends on the use or the functionality needed by the following steps.
- Information/ Data Processing
This is the Software part, where it will analyse the information from the different steps. It has to be calibrated in order to give logical and understandable results for the user. It can have different level of difficulties, regarding the task asked sucha as read a temperature (which is easy) or identify an object/ person inside a photograph or a video like in a surveillance video.
- The User Interface
The last step on the road, the data becomes understandable to the user. The support can be very different from on IoT system to another, depending on the type of service the company is providing. It can visible thanks through a Text, a Mail, a Notification on a Smartphone…etc. Thanks to the interface, the user will have the possibility to answer to the data or check the system by himself.
Nevertheless, a user can also interact with the system in place by integrating a scrypt that will explain to each component what to do in a certain situation, with precise rules.
For the uninitiated person, this might seems complicated to understand. But as an Image is worth a thousand words, with a concrete example you’ll get what it’s all about.
I am mister X, I am currently on vacation 500km away from my house. Before I left I put some cameras in my entire house to make sure that if anyone enters I’ll know it. I can have an access to a live video of each camera from an App I downloaded on my Smartphone. The very same App that will send me an alert in case of someone enters my house.
At some point on my trip, the cameras ( the Sensors ) detect mouvement inside my house while there should be no one. The information of « Unsual Mouvement » is sent to the database of the Company ( The Connectivity ) that will process the Information with the script I already entered in the App ( Data Processing ). I will receive a notification on my Smartphone, alerting me that there is someone inside my property that shouldn’t be here. The app gives me a live access to my house, I see the intruder, I don’t recognize him, so the App gets in touch with the authorities to send officers to check my house.
We saw a concrete example of how IoT works, and how it can benefits our lives. But it has much more to offer.
Why is it promising ?
IoT is easy to fabricate thanks to the raise of the demand of different electronics devices for different supports. Therefore the cost of electronics component is decreasing each years. Same goes for the cost of having dedicated Networks, as there are billions of websites, the big need of professionals to have a dedicated server for there Business created a competition that brought the prices down.
But what does it brings to Business ? How can a Start-Up, a SME or a Corporate use it in order to be profitable for them in terms of costs or ROI ?
First, having an entire factory connected (for example) will allow the manufacturers to develop more efficient processes by reducing the wastes. Connected sensors will be able to connect their own datas during a process of production while a Machine Learning system will then process the Information to a human being or another automated system to act. It will give major industries the data they need by converting the entire world into Data.
By 2020, we expect 200Billions of connected devices connected to the internet on the market . It represents 26/ person. And it can attack all of the different markets, from SmartBuilding, to SmartLocks, SmartCities or SmartHealth devices. We already have made the first step into the Connectivity, when you think about Apple for example and the features of the latest Apple Watch that will call Emergency Services if the user falls.
Some specialist expect IoT to have an economic impact to come around $14.4 TRILLIONs by 2020.
Nevertheless, IoT comes with risks that must be known.
One of the major concern of our modern society is Privacy. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Founder of Facebook had to change the direction where he was heading, from « The Future is Public » to « The Future is Private ». Understanding the worry of its users. Therefore with a System such as the Internet Of Things, that works only with Privates Datas from the users/ customers. That’s why Datas are so valuable right now on the Market.
Besides the potential issue with Privacy, Cybersecurity must be considered as a major challenge when it comes to IoT. How an autonomous system that works without human intervention can prevent the attack from malwares ? How can we protect the Datas of our customers/ users ?
Finally, what would happen if the system doesn’t work ? If one of the four component fails, are we sure to have another one that will take over its tasks and complete the cycle ? Are should we expect a 3rd party to conduct an expertize and develop a customized risk/ security assessment ?
Personnaly I don’t have the answers to those risks. But the Internet Of Things can lead to a Revolution in the way we live but also in the way we produce. It can lead to a city that will alert you automatically on your Smartphone if anything goes wrong, if the highway is overcrowded, if the metro is closes for work…etc. But at what cost ?