The Internet of Things is a term that requires some explanation. It sounds kind of odd, but in all likelihood it will soon become common parlance — the system of communication it describes is rising in popularity. In fact, some of the products you buy and services you use may already be using the Internet of Things. It’s a system that allows devices to
communicate directly with each other without human intervention. Odd as it may sound, it truly is an Internet for things.
Certain devices can connect to the Internet so that you can share and receive information. Such devices include smartphones, tablets, PCs, and so on. Recently, though, new devices have been introduced that can communicate with each other using the Internet and some other methods. These methods could include things such as RFID, near-field communications, various types of barcodes, and so on. The communication capabilities are built-in and allow for new services — such as thermostats that track your energy usage and adapt to your habits to save you money.
This method of machines talking to each other is called device to-device communication, also known as the Internet of Things. Your devices talk to each other, not to plot against you like in a science fiction movie, but rather to help you out. So why does this seemingly scary power exist? Well, a lot of efficiency can be gained when devices communicate their status without human intervention.
For example, if you own a refrigerator that is able to track the freshness dates on products it contains, you might get a text message on your smartphone telling you to pick up a carton of milk on your way home from the office. And guess who sent that text message? Your refrigerator! Because your fridge is able to examine the information on your carton of milk, it can let you know that the milk is out of date and you need new milk in order to cook the rice pudding you were planning for tonight. How does it know about the rice pudding? Because you can also enter your menu plans into some appliances. Imagine, no more nasty surprises hiding at the back of your refrigerator shelves and no more getting home to find you’re
out of what you need for tonight’s dinner!
A key feature of the Internet of Things is that each device must be uniquely identifiable or addressable.
Just as the computer in your home has a uniquely identifiable address called an IP address, the devices on the Internet of Things must be identifiable. There are, of course, many different methods of making those devices uniquely identifiable.
The specific components that are needed vary according to the communication needs of each situation. For example, your intelligent refrigerator needs a way to connect to the Internet as well as a unique address. The consumables you place in your refrigerator don’t require either, but they do need something on the order of a specialized barcode or RFID tag that contains information about the type of product and freshness information.
Although they use the same technologies and similar infrastructures, machine-to-machine technologies (M2M) and the Internet of Things are separated at the consumer level. As you look around the industrial and enterprise spaces, M2M technologies are enabling companies to better operate their businesses, take burdens off supply chains, and relay more informative data in real-time. The Internet of Things takes M2M technologies and uses them to deliver convenience to consumers in new and responsive ways.
The Internet of Things responds to the way that you live, it interacts with you throughout the day, and it keeps your home functioning the way it should by inserting connectivity into your everyday life