Internet of things - key to a smarter planet

Posted on Friday, November 7th, 2014 by Lavanya Bathwal

"Ta-ding, ta-ding, ta-ding."

You check your cell phone to find three notifications.

Notification 1- sent from geyser- "Judging by the data collected over the past week, I am taking more time to heat up than usual. Need servicing. Press allow to send a message to the servicing centre."

Notification 2- sent from refrigerator- "Half a dozen eggs have been ordered from 'X' store since the egg count has fallen below the minimum number set to 2. Click cancel to withdraw the order."

Notification 3- sent from car- "My fuel tank is leaking. Can I call the mechanic to fix me? Press No to cancel and Yes to allow"

Well, it's not a scene from a science fiction or a 007 movie. I have just given you the taste of a world governed by the Internet of Things.

Internet of things, as defined by the Internet itself, is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing infrastructure. This definition, borrowed from the first line of a Wikipedia article on IoT (for the non-techno-savvy; you will get used to the acronym) – might have confused you too; for the first time read surely left me dumbfounded!

That's when I came across a simpler explanation. IoT is a vision, more of a concept that describes how everyday objects will be connected to the internet and will be able to identify themselves to other things. It's as if every object will have a unique identity- just like an IP address- and will be able to store data not only for itself but also be enabled to share it with other devices over Internet in an intelligent fashion.

The power and craze of IoT can be summarized as follows: according to the technocrats (their blogs say so), going by the statistics, by 2020, 90% of cars are expected to be connected and by 2050 we are expected to surpass 50 million different devices connected to the internet. Need we say more?

With IoT, mankind will be able to lead a more independent life and devote much more time towards other activities. As we are moving towards a world of global wifi, it is just about the perfect recipe for IoT. Things will no longer be just ‘things’, they will become intelligent devices. Devices that will assist man in performing his daily chores.

No matter how efficient IoT might prove to be, there is, as always, a chink in the armour: Cyber Security, for example. Cyber security is, perhaps, the biggest vulnerability for IoT. With so much of personal data shared over Internet, one’s personal security is always at risk. We all are well aware of the havoc created when iCloud account of Hollywood celebreties went haywire and their personal pictures were splashed all over the internet.

Imagine all your personal details were personal no more! Needless to say, such a breach in privacy will never be entertained by any individual. Everyone wants their own space. You wouldn’t want every random weirdo on the net talking about your private lives. Or would you?

Does this mean that one will slam doors on technology? Nope. That would certainly not be a befitting choice. If we want IoT to bring about a smarter world, we would also have to act smarter! An easy solution to avoiding security hacks would be to spend some quality time devising a good password (not the good shown by the website- they grade your password as good even if it has your name and birth date). One time pain might be privacy gained. Remember, your password is the thin wall separating your personal data from the world out there.

We need to embrace IoT with open arms. It definitely has the talismanic power to trigger the revolution towards a better and smarter planet. You would like that, wouldn’t you?

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