Technology trends don’t come more dazzling or daunting than the Internet of Things. In simple terms, it involves virtually every object around you, whether an alarm clock or a mid-sized family sedan, being hooked up to the Internet via sensors. This endless array of “things” can then communicate with one another with little or no human input.
The applications for this are almost limitless. Some are mundane, like your fridge informing your smartphone when you’ve run out of eggs. Others could be life saving, like your pacemaker independently relaying details of a dangerous fault to your cardiologist before you even sense there’s a problem.
According to Cisco, the number of objects connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on Earth in 2008, and this number is expected to grow exponentially to 50 billion by 2020. While Gartner predicts the Internet of things will generate $1.9 trillion in global economic value-add through sales into diverse end markets.
An infrastructure capable of supporting the Internet of Things is already being built. The latest Internet communications protocol IPv6 is already being implemented to accommodate for the large amount of storage space required for the unique identification numbers of objects. In June, HP revealed that it is working on a new computing system, dubbed The Machine, capable of managing 160 petabytes of data in 250 nanoseconds, which will come in handy in coping with the massive amount of data from the Internet of Things.
The technology used to connect everything to the Internet, be it RFID, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or NFC, will not just allow objects to communicate with humans, but with each other as well. Imagine a scenario in which traffic information, train schedules, and work data all communicate with your alarm clock, coffee maker, and car engine to start your day exactly on time, all while you’re asleep.