oriThe internet is very much its own entity, and is in many ways a virtual world. Although it was once a contained network used exclusively for data sharing, it has evolved over time to the important asset that it is today.
For example, people make use of social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to discuss recent news events and to schedule meetings with both close friends and important business clients. The introduction of mobile technology has enabled users to remain perpetually connected to the web; providing them with GPS capabilities while on the move, and the ability to remotely check things like their email, stocks, and the weather. What’s happening more and more is that the internet is becoming intertwined with our daily lives. It is this phenomenon that is the basis behind a popular buzz phrase known as “The Internet of Things”.
Not a Single Application, but a Universal Concept
First coined in 1999 by Kevin Ashton, the Internet of Things is the idea of tagging all objects and people with certain identifiers that are used to relay information to a computer database. In order to tag and monitor these items, technologies such as barcodes, QR codes, digital watermarking and near-field communication (NFC) could be used.
Ashton’s original definition contained this powerful message. “Today’s information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more ideas than things. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things – using data they gathered without any help from us – we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.”
As you can see, the Internet of Things is more than a single application or network; it is a concept that can be applied to almost any walk of life. Its potential uses extend to medicine, sports, financial analysis, entertainment, social interaction, and security. We’ll take a quick look at some of these applications and how the idea of an internet-equipped society can prove to be a major benefit.
The Internet of Things might appear to be a futuristic advancement that is several years away from deployment, but it is in principle, already here. For example, look no further than mobile applications such as Foursquare and Google Now. These apps monitor user location and send the information to data centers, which in turn direct you to targeted advertisements. Although rudimentary, this is a real-world application of the concept.
As mentioned by JavaWorld, the Internet of Things could also be used to improve vehicle safety. Cars could be equipped with plug-ins that capture and transmit data regarding car speed, gas levels, and other identifiers to your personal computer or even to your insurance provider. To extend the idea even further, if all cars contained such devices, they could theoretically communicate with one another to prevent previously unavoidable collisions.
Another application is related to advanced medical care. Individuals at high risk could wear medical sensors that monitor things such as blood pressure, glucose levels, and pulse. If these readings surpass certain thresholds, then a 911 call could be dispatched to send help on the way
Data Security and Recovery
One major area where the Internet of Things could play a large role is in data recovery and backup. Currently, data is stored in one of two places – it is backed up on either a physical hard drive or it is stored in the Cloud. Although both of these options prove to be very useful, corporate and personal info is never truly safe – hard drives are vulnerable to physical theft and or damage, while web services tend to lack formidable network security. However, the Internet of Things could provide a number of alternatives.
Mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, are already proofs of concept. Downloadable applications such as Dropbox allow users to access, edit, and save documents while on the go. This may just seem like a small extension of an already established Cloud service, but the Internet of Things could take it much further. Imagine a world where all of your devices are connected to one another; where saving a document on your laptop also sends an updated copy to your phone, tablet, office computer, and external hard drive.
This concept can also be effectively applied to data recovery. The sole purpose of recovery operations is to prevent service interruptions from occurring; these are usually the result of man-made or natural disasters that also make user information inaccessible. The Internet of Things could help by alerting the user the exact moment that the servers are brought down. Moreover, since the data would be instantaneously stored on additional back-up drives, the loss of a single server shouldn’t cause too much of a hiccup. In an interconected world, there should be no such thing as data loss – even when hardware fails, several copies of the updated document, program, or project will be saved elsewhere. This is the true potential of the Internet of Things.