Have you heard about the Internet of Things (IoT)? Although critics sometimes dismiss it as nothing more than “put a chip in it,” I believe that the concept builds upon some long-term technology trends and that there’s something really interesting and valuable going on.
To me, the most relevant trends are the decreasing cost of mass-produced compute power, the widespread availability of IP connectivity, and the ease with which large amounts of information can be distilled into intelligence using any number of big data tools and techniques:
- Mass-produced compute power means that it is possible to crank out powerful processors that consume modest amounts of power, occupy very little space, and cost very little. These attributes allow the processors to be unobtrusively embedded in devices of all shapes and sizes.
- Widespread IP connectivity (wired or wireless) lets these processors talk to each other and to the cloud. While this connectivity is fairly widespread, it is definitely not ubiquitous.
- Big data allows us to make sense of the information measured, observed, or collected, by the processors running in these devices.
We could also add advances in battery & sensor technology to the list of enabling technologies for the Internet of Things. Before too long, factory floors, vehicles, health care systems, household appliances, and much more will become connected “things.”
Two good introductory posts on the topic are 20 Real World Problems Solved by IoT and Smart IoT: IoT as a Human Agent, Human Extension, and Human Complement. My friend Sudha Jamthe has also written on the topic; her book IoT Disruptions focuses on new jobs and careers that will come about as IoT becomes more common.Read more