You must have already heard of Internet of Things. Can to be sure: you will hear a lot more. The term describes a scenario in which many of the objects in your day to day will be connected to the internet and communicating with each other. But what exactly this mean? This connectivity is all required? How many distinct objects will be connected? What is the importance of it to our everyday lives? You’ll find the answers to these and other questions in the next lines.
The Internet of Things — or Internet of Things (IoT)
Internet of Things is a literal translation of the English expression “Internet of Things (IoT). InPortuguese, the most suitable name could be something like “Internet in All Things,” but, in the background, this has importance: the value is to understand and take advantage of the idea.
For both, do a quick exercise: try to remember the objects that you use to connect to the Internet. Smartphone, tablet, notebook, desktop. You use at least one of these devices, right?
But there are other equipment that connect to the Internet to perform specific activities. Want an example? Security cameras that are online, let a person to monitor their house from a distance or check the your store when the establishment is closed.
Another example: smart TVs. Maybe you have one (or more): they, you can access services such as Netflix, YouTube and Spotify direct mode, without having to connect them to your PC or smartphone.
Maybe you have a video game the last generation that, necessarily, connects to the Internet. Super Nintendo, Mega Drive and so many other old consoles didn’t have all this connectivity.
Now imagine a scenario in which, in addition to your TV, various objects from your home connect to the Internet: fridge, washing machine, microwave oven, thermostat, fire alarm, sound system, lamps, anyway.
See here that the idea is not necessarily to do with you have a way to connect to the Internet. Think, for example, on how impractical it must be to access a news portal on a display screen coupled to the gate of his the fridge. It is not a function that we expect this appliance…
The proposal is another: the connectivity is so that the objects may be more efficient or receive attributes complementary. In this sense, to such of the fridge with the Internet could let you know when a food is close to end and, at the same time, search in web which markets offer the best prices for that item. The fridge could also search for and view recipes for you. As you can see, the creativity is able to bring applications really interesting.
Think now on a thermostat. The device can check on the Internet what are the weather conditions of your the neighborhood to leave the air conditioning at the optimum temperature for when you arrive at home.
But it is also important that the objects can communicate with others whenever appropriate. Continuing with the example of the thermostat, the unit can send information to your smartphone by means of a specific application for that you have reports that show you how the air conditioning is being used, or apply custom settings.
It also serves to offices, hospitals, factories, streets, and more
It is possible that, at least currently, you not have a lot of interest in having a house widely connected. Under this point of view, the Internet of Things may not seem there very relevant. But it is a mistake to think that the concept serves only for the home: there are applications not linked to the domestic environment in which the concept can bring gain in productivity or decrease production costs, just to give some examples. Go to other more detailed:
– Hospitals and clinics: patients may use the devices connected that measure heart rate or pressure blood, for example, and the data collected are sent in the real-time system which controls the examinations;
– Agriculture: sensors scattered in plantations can give information quite accurate about temperature, soil moisture, probability of rainfall, the speed of the wind and other information essential to the good income of planting. Similarly, sensors connected to the animals can help in the control of cattle: a chip placed in the ear of the ox you can do the tracking of the animal, inform your history vaccines and so on;
– Factories: the Internet of Things can help you to measure time the actual productivity of the machines, or to indicate which sectors of the plant need more supplies or equipment;
– Shops: shelves smart can inform you in real time when the particular item is starting to miss, what the product is is having less output (requiring measures such as repositioning or creating promotions) or at what times certain items sell the most (helping in the elaboration of sales strategies);
– Public transport: users can know by the smartphone or on screens installed in the points which the location of a particular bus. The sensors can also help the company discover that a vehicle presents mechanical defects, as well as to know how he is the fulfillment of times, which indicates the need or not of to strengthen the fleet;
– Logistics: sensor data installed on trucks, containers and even individual boxes combined with information traffic, for example, can help a logistics company to define the best routes, choose the trucks more suitable for a particular area, which orders to distribute among the fleet active, and so on;
– Public services: sensors in waste bins can help the city council to optimize the garbage collection; already cars can connect to a central monitoring station traffic to get the best route for that moment, as well as to help the department traffic control to know which roads of the city are the busiest at that moment.
The technologies of the Internet of Things
We can’t look to the Internet of Things as a technology the single, “massive”. In fact, there is a set of factors that determines how the concept is constituted. There are, essentially, three components that need to be combined to get an application IoT: devices, communication networks and systems control.
The devices you already know. They range from items large, such as fridges and cars, to small objects, such as lamps and clocks. The important thing is that these devices are equipped with the right items to provide the communication: chips, sensors, antennas, etc.
The industry has been working intensively to make components specific to the IoT. Today, we already have chips and sensors are tiny, in addition to providing resources communication and monitoring, and consume little energy electric, which makes them ideal for small devices.
Networks and communication technologies
The communication networks do not escape what you already use technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFCcan be — and are — used for the Internet of Things. But as these networks offer limited scope, certain applications rely on mobile networks such as 3G and 4G / LTE.
Note, however, that the networks current mobile — 2G, 3G and 4G — are directed to devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. The focus is on the applications of text, voice, image, and video. This aspect does not prevent the the current networks being used for IoT, but a optimization for devices varying necessary, mainly to ensure the low consumption of energy and processing resources. This should come with the the next wave of mobile networks, the 5G (fifth generation).
The role of networks 5G
In a scenario in which the Internet of Things is widely widespread, there will be sensors, chips and related devices on all sides. Each of these items will need to be connected. With the IPv6, that offers an extremely large number of addresses for the devices (in practice, it is almost as if the the quantity of addresses to be unlimited), connect these devices will not be a problem. The limitation comes of communication technologies: the current networks were not designed to allow many connectionsdevices such different. Hence the perspective hopeful about the 5G.
In addition to offering a very high speed to data transmission networks, 5G will allow them, byexample, that each device based on IoT use only the resources necessary, always in the exact measure. This will prevent bottlenecks in the network, as well as waste of energy (a problem intolerable in devices that only work with battery).
The standards that define the fifth generation of networks pieces of furniture are not completely defined. But the the expectation is that 5G is ready to be used massively in 2020. This year, it is estimated that there will be about 50 billion devices online, with this number and it should grow quickly from there.
Not enough for the device to connect to the Internet or exchanging information with other objects. These data need to be processed, that is, must be sent to a system that to treat you. Which? Depends on the application.
Imagine a house that has security monitoring, control temperature management and lighting integrated. The data from cameras, fire alarms, air conditioners, lamps and other items are sent to a system that controls every aspect. This system can be a service in the clouds, the that guarantees the access to it from any place, as well as free the owner of the house the task of updating it.
A company, however, you can count on an M2M system (Machine-to-Machine), that is, a mechanism communication machine-to-machine. Think, how example, in a factory that has a mechanism that checks the the quality of parts that were just produced. To detect a defect, this machine informs the first that he the item must be replaced. This, in turn, calls for a third party equipment the release of raw material for the manufacture of the replacement.
The factory can then have a system that receives the data of all the machines to obtain statistical data of the production. If the plant is too large, a system of Big Data can be used to optimize production, indicating that type of piece gives more defects, which machines produce more, if the raw material of a given vendor has a history of problems more expressive and so on.
The previous examples show that the technologies to be used in the The Internet of Things vary depending on the application. But this not to say that standards are not necessary. The industry is already organizing — or trying to organize — to establish technology standards that bring viability,interoperability, security, integrity, availability, performance and scalability for applications of the IoT.
Makes a lot of sense. If you have, for example, cities that monitor the cars to optimize the flow on roads, the control system you may have difficulties to operate if each manufacturer car adopt patterns of communication by their own, do not guarantee full integration.
Attempts to establish standards have led the formation of consortia to deal with this work, as well as with other related issues the Internet of Things. As yet there is not settings, it is convenient to follow the work of them. Here are some of these entities:
- OpenFog Consortium: formed by companies such as Dell, Microsoft and Cisco;
- Internet of Things Consortium: formed by companies such as Logitech, Wolfram and Indiegogo;
- Open Connectivity Foundation: supported by companies such as Intel, Samsung and Microsoft(yes, Microsoft again — the companies do not need to supporting only one consortium).
Possible risks of the Internet of Things
If the Internet of Things describes a scenario in which almost all is connected, it is clear that there are risks associated with it. It is for this reason that the conventions that treat of the concept should take into consideration various parameters, preventive and corrective, especially about security and privacy.
Imagine the troubles that a person would have if the system the safety of your home were unexpectedly shut down by account software failure or even an invasion orchestrated by cyber criminals.
The risks are not only individual. There may be problems of collective order. Think, for example, in a city that has all the lights connected. The management system transit controls each one of them so smart to decrease congestion, offer detours in roads blocked by accidents and create alternative routes when there are large events. If this the system is attacked or fails, the traffic of the city become a chaos in a matter of minutes.
The industry, therefore, needs to define and follow criteria ensuring availability of services (including here the fast recovery in case of failures or attacks), protection of communications (which, in the corporate applications, should include protocols hard and auditing procedures), definition of standards for privacy, data confidentiality (no one you can have access to data without proper authorisation), integrity (ensure that data will not be improperly modified), etc.
To consider all these aspects is far from being a trivial task. In addition to the technological challenges themselves, the industry needs to address each point taking into account global conventions and legislation in each country.
Various segments of the industry are already dealing with such issues, but this is a work in constant development. That is why it is crucial that the other aspect is not forgotten: transparency —companies and home users should be aware of risks associated with the solutions of IoT, as well as receive orientation to minimize them.
Internet of Things: real-life examples
We associate the Internet of Things, a futuristic setting, but, as the beginning of the text makes clear, much of what we already have fits in with the concept of smart TVs, smartwatches (which is also fall in the so-called “devices wearable” or “wearables”), monitoring systems, etc.
It is worth noting, however, that for some time now it is possible to find companies that have internalised the Internet of the Things with much more depth, so to speak. Let’s look at some examples.
The Nest is perhaps the best example spread of an ecosystem of Internet of Things. Created in 2010, the the company develops smart devices for homes and offices. The products that have brought great visibility the company’s thermostats and smoke detectors that can be integrated to smartphones through apps specific.
The thermostat adjusts the temperature of the location automatically, and you can, by example, learn the zones that the user usually go and get home to make modifications consistent with this routine.
Already the smoke detectors use light-colored, voice messages and notifications on the smartphone to warn the user of the detection of smoke, gases dangerous or sudden rise in temperature (suggesting fire), and may even trigger the relief automatically.
The innovative technologies of the Nest put it in position avant-garde in respect to the Internet of Things. Not for less, the company was acquired by Google in 2014 by the amount of$ 3.2 billion.
Another example is quite widespread is that of the Philips. The company has a division that develops LED lamps smart. Calls Hue, these lamps can be configured by your smartphone to change the the intensity and the colors of the lighting to let the for a more comfortable environment to each situation.
The Tesla is a the company specializes in electric cars of high performance. The vehicles of the brand are, therefore, quite “high tech” and this relates not only to your set of batteries, or to its mechanism of recharge: the cars of the company can also connect to the Internet to receive updates software and are equipped with various sensors, such as one that provides data geo-location.
By the way, cars of the brand are being prepared for act in stand-alone mode. The permanent communication Internet will help the computer of the vehicle in the tasks of driving. An example: a central you may inform in real-time, which way next are congested and, thus, the system will be able to choose the most suitable route to that moment.
The FitBit is a company that produces devices aimed for health monitoring and physical activities, such as scales, bracelets and watches smart. The data obtained by these devices (heart rate, distance traveled, amount of steps, etc.) are synchronized with the smartphone and can be shared on social networks. It is a way for the user to motivate friends or create challenges for them, for example (and, indirectly, to do other people buy the brand’s products).