What has never been adequately addressed is how all of these interlinked things are going to be secured against those who have no business communicating with them. It would be inconvenient enough if somebody started switching the lights off and on every few seconds, but it could take down a neighborhood grid if somebody started switching the air conditioners on and off every few seconds. Or bumped the thermostat for your furnace down to fifty on a cold winter night. Or told your refrigerator to defrost repeatedly. So the one feature that all of the connected goods must have, and probably will not have, is a switch to disable remote controlling them.
Of course, some will start talking about encryption, but if a class of items are going to be internet compatible cheaply, all of the access codes will be simple and similar. So inexpensive encryption will not be included. So how does one protect against hackers when there is no protection?
Chuck, I think it has. With most consumer goods the bar code is read at the cash register. There are, however, passive RFID tags that can be printed. Yes, the circuit is actually printed on the tag. There is a circuit and it responds when signaled with a unique code. We had a briefing on that from an IEEE colleague a couple of years ago. I think he worked for Zebra Technologies. They make passive RFID printers. I have seen articles talking about one cent RFID tags. So, we have the technology.
Naperlou, back in those early days that you mentioned, experts used to say, "The Internet of Things will really take off when the price of an RFID tag hits five cents." That way, every item on the supermarket shelf (and elsewhere) could (theoretically) link to the Internet. Has that happened yet?
I remember the milk analogy, Naperlou. the idea is that the scanner would detect expire dates. Part of the scenario included the grocery deliver service called WebVan, which was developed by the guy who started Border Books. That sure crashed.
Rob, you mention connected household devices. This is where the original impetus for the IOT comes from. All of this was tied to smart meters. The idea is to allow you full control of your home and to optimize energy consumption. One idea from the original concept was that your refrigator would be able to detect that you needed milk. Then it would either add it to a shopping list or order it for you. At the time this seemed sort of silly and not very important.
The real bang for the buck with the IoT is the smart grid and more flexible controls for buildings and homes. These are major users of electricity and a few percent saved there translates to a large savings in dollars.
Another application is the industrial IoT. Many industrial processes are not as instrumented as one would think.
As with all of these processor based systems, it is the software that will do the heavy lifting. There really is no need for standardization at the processor level. It is only the interfaces (communications protocols and message content) that needs to be standardized. Just look at mobile phones. They all run on a large, complex network. The processors are mostly ARM processors, but not all (there are some Intel). That is how it will progress.
Good points, both Anandy and Rich. Ultimately, the IoT will follow needs. A lot of applications people have postulated (many having to do with connected household devices) don't rise to the level of solving a pressing problem. The emergency scenario proposed by Anandy, sounds like an example of solving a real need. What's good to see is that technology is showing up to support IoT.
AnandY, those are great examples that I had never thought of. Keep in mind that the technoloy must work perfectly (or darned near close) to employ in those applications. You don't want to be left waiting for the ambulance because there's a bug in the code.
Rich, This should be a huge boost for IoT applications, making it far simpler to make devices and system that are easily connected to transfer data. Will be interesting to see the impact this has on new product designs.
The strive to improve our lifestyle has no limit. A car calling an ambulance faster than a phone? An ambulance gathering critical patient information before arriving at the hospital? Field gathering information of crop yield, detecting water leak in irrigation facility, monitoring soil moisture? Hopefully IoT will fulfil these never ending facility requirements.
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