What is Internet of Things and why should I care – A Video Journey

As the buzzwords like IOT, IOE, M2M are catching up, one wonders (well, at least I did) what this is all about. Why so much fuss and why it does say it will have a big business impact as well as overall impact on betterment of life.

IOT: Internet of Things – a system where we can connect living,┬ánon-living things and computers with each other through internet. And this system is even capable of analying data for us or even to make decisions on our behalf if we prefer so.

IOE: Internet of everything – Another buzzword for IOT

M2M: Machine to Machine – This can be called as a smaller subset of IOT, where we’re talking about a system which makes machines to talk to each other, share and analyze information.

In quest to find, I did some online finding. But the problem is, there are so many brilliant articals, videos etc; that digesting all the infomation to make a mental picture itself takes a lot of time.

Hence this artical, which though leads links to various youtube videos in a sequence; I believe can help one make a quick mental picture on how IOT can impact day-2-day life.

The concept of IOT is to make everything (including living as well as non-living things) share information with each other; which then can be analyzed to find trends/inferences for enabling smart decisions. We humans do that everyday, don’t we? But how’bt even things connected to us, our environment itself talks to you and help you make decisions? For e.g. how many times you found yourself at loss on what to do when you already are far away from home and not sure if you locked doors properly. OR you’re at office but worrying if your kids came home safely? I believe the below video journey will help you visualize solution for your problem.

  1. A short and sweet video which just explains IOT in nutshell and as an example shows an intelligent traffic system:
  2. A wishful smart city video
  3. A day at smart home – average video though explains how a smart home can be
  4. A nice video showing a busy workday for a couple and how internet of things makes life more organized, smarter and smoother
  5. An internet of things home hub transformed as a smart robot (Buddy); which enhances usability of the thing’s smartness a notch further.
  6. A very nice video showing how inernet of things helps us handle life and death type situation
  7. Ambulance drone – This video shows how medical help can be remotely provided in an emergency situation using drones and IOT.
  8. Hamburg – smart city
  9. Dubai – Government’s ideas to maket it smartest
  10. Ted Talk – Benson Hougland explains in nutshell what is internet of things and why should we care about this technology.

Internet of Things (IOT) – is it yet another name of automation?

Industrial automation had been around since long. We had been seeing CNC machines, automation in high risk and/or high precision industrial scenarios for quite a while now. At personal front also automation like PIR based lights, light intensity sensors, proximity/motion activated burglar alarms or even SMS triggered water pumps had been quite common.

And now with rise of IOT, we had been talking about smart home, smart cities, smart equipment, robotic automation. So in my beginning days on IOT, I had always been wondering on what is changed now except scale of automation. Hence this loud thinking.

Previously the automation was limited to a small area (which can be economically and conveniently covered by wires or radio frequencies or communication technologies later developed for PAN or WPAN). This kept the influence of automation limited to a specific area, many of the instances to such a level that we can call it human supervised automation rather than an intelligent and self learning automation.

Say for example, a bank is burgled in the night. In such case, apart from the resistance provided by automated security systems (and may be the security staff); at the max we’d have found alarms ringing and bank security personnel calling up bank authorities, police. Not that a higher level security systems were not available; but then it came at a premium cost of ownership. Consider another example of effectively managing traffic in a city. It’d take a big team of traffic officers armed with communication equipment to man the city 24X7 and resolve traffic issues. And still this would have been reactive in most cases. Moreover the pattern of traffic over a long period still could not be studied; which could have helped to address some basic infrastructure/policy or regulation issues causing such conditions. Take yet another example of supply chain where the business assets are spread & moving over a large geography. Apart from implementing most common measures (like GPS location, locks, frequent communication with driver, surprise check squads) the companies were still owing a big risk which was entirely dependent on how careful, efficient and reliable their manpower is.

So despite having said that there had been consistent improvements in field of surveillance, analytic and control; these were non-connected developments. We still were living with geographical limitations, cost limitations, computing power limitations, limitations of easy operations of automation systems.
This is exactly what IOT has changed. It highlighted us how inexpensive electronics items like sensors, micro controllers can easily help us overcome all our limitations. And coupled with power of internet and ease of harnessing computing power helped us break the barriers. Cherry on the cake is that this all set-up is really a fraction of cost viz-a-viz to our old world solutions. This is where really IOT is different.

Moreover the ease of availing computing power, connectivity to vast scale and distance that is provided by internet and thereby possibility of doing analytic really should not be underestimated. It is really this that helped us to dream gigantic level of automation, surveillance and improvements like a smart city or even for that matter a smart home. I think the actuation (i.e. making things do actions using IOT) is the least important part of IOT (though it is commonly perceived as major benefit); the real power lies in expanding our vision multi-fold to observe and study real time behavior and analyzing it. And this is followed by decisions based on factual data.

Going back to the old world examples – now bank can implement motion detectors, occupancy sensors, proximity sensors and so on to real time monitor security situation, study it over a period and improve consistently, get real time alarms. They can even monitor their spread assets like ATM machines real time not only from security perspective but also for improving customer service. Traffic patterns can be studied over a period and corrective actions taken apart from real time actions like advance warning to drivers, traffic regulation. And a transport fleet operator can real time monitor operation of fleet and even control it real time. Moreover all these controls and analysis will be available on devices like smartphones giving you flexibility. And the list goes on to span previously unexplored territories. Possibilities are endless.