The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), or the ‘cloud of things’, may or may not be something you’ve heard of, but it is a term that is going to become very familiar in the coming years as it continues to evolve and expand.
It involves the connection of a vast and varied number of devices, objects, services and systems on a global scale, via methods other than Machine-to-Machine routes (M2M). These objects are not just the usual suspects such as tablets, mobile phones, or computers. They can be as varied and diverse as wireless monitors attached to cattle, heart rate monitors in hospitals, even cars, and many, many more are linking into the IoT on a daily basis.
This sounds simple, but the implications of it, for both businesses and individual consumers, are enormous.
The predictions for the actual number of devices and objects that will be connected to the IoT (also known as the Internet of Everything) in the future varies from expert to expert. According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020. ABI Research estimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected by 2020. Cisco and CCS predict a colossal 50 billion objects by 2020.
This connectivity is predicted to happen mostly via IPv6 (next generation internet protocol, set to replace the protocol most people use today), another factor which is becoming increasingly important in emergent Telecoms.
It is safe to assume that businesses will increasingly become reliant on the IoT, demanding more and more from their connectivity in terms of speed and bandwidth to cope with their ever expanding infrastructures. This has implications on the broadband connections they have access to, and the technology performance they require in terms of sensors and electronics, embedded processors and other equipment.
There is also some speculation from experts that the IoT could present problems for broadband and mobile service providers by these connected objects eventually bypassing traditional networks and broadband networks and communicating directly with each other through peer-to-peer via WSNs.
It remains to be seen whether the predictions will fall short of, or be far exceeded by the actual number of connected objects. The EE Times thinks that 50 Billion is ‘only the beginning’. Security, privacy and regulation will be the hot topics of the future when it comes to the IoT being a level playing field for all users.