Most people think of being connected to the Internet in terms of computers, tablets and smart phones. But these aren’t the only devices that plug in. Today, nearly everything around us -- from household objects to the cars on the street -- has the ability to be brought online and interact with other physical objects. This may seem like the plot from a science fiction movie but it’s becoming more of a reality every day. This phenomenon dubbed the “Internet of Things” dates back to the early 1980s but wasn’t named until 1999. In more recent years, physical technology has finally caught up with the idea.
The Internet of Things is the idea of the physical world becoming one interconnected system of communicating objects. The concept is closely identified with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and other sensors. By implanting these tags inside a physical object, that “thing” no longer relates just to its user but to the world around it. Objects can be monitored and controlled remotely through the Internet allowing them to work directly with one another and without the need for a human to link them together.
Applications of the Internet of Things
A “thing” in the Internet of Things may be any physical object that can be assigned an IP address and given the ability to transfer data over a network. Currently, most consumers see this technology through home-based smart products such as lights and smoke detectors. Similarly, companies in a variety of industries are using Internet-connected devices to monitor and control their thermostats and security systems. Being able to remotely monitor and control such objects help to save the homeowner and the business professional both time and money. Other examples of businesses utilizing this technology include vending machines that can send a signal to a company’s computers when supply runs low or manufacturing equipment that warns its user of impending, or occurring, malfunction.
As it becomes easier and more cost effective to bring physical objects online, the potential for the Internet of Things continues to grow. As Moore’s Law describes, society is still in the infancy of this great information evolution and technology companies are actively trying to find new ways to link the Internet with physical objects. What is to come for the Internet of Things can only be speculated, but it continues to drive a more interconnected, real-time informational experience.