What is the Internet of Things and why is it needed

It is clear what the Internet is. And what is this strange and clumsy expression “Internet of Things”? We tell you what it is and why you probably use the Internet of Things.

Concept and history of the Internet of Things
The appearance of the concept was predicted by Nikola Tesla in 1926. He argued that the radio will be improved and become a “big brain”, and other small instruments will be able to connect to it and easily fit in a jacket pocket.

Actually, what happened: with the help of the Internet, millions of computers are connected into a single network, and ordinary smartphones or tablets have become “small tools”.

There are many explanations for the term “Internet of Things”. They all differ in interpretation, but a common part can be distinguished.

The Internet of Things (Internet of Thing, IoT) is a global computer network that combines various kinds of physical objects that can interact with each other and the outside world.

The key feature is that not only computers, smartphones and other sufficiently powerful computing devices will participate in the network, but almost any thing.

The first “Internet thing” was created in 1990 by John Romkey, one of the founders and developers of the TCP / IP protocol. John connected a regular toaster to the computer, and also taught the kitchen appliance to start and turn off using the computer commands Get and Set. The toaster was controlled remotely, and it was also possible to program its autonomous operation.

The term itself first appeared only in 1999, but until 2010, the world did not see any innovations regarding the Internet of Things. It is not surprising that only servers, PCs, laptops and smartphones possessed processing power and appropriate interfaces for connecting to the Internet. There was simply no need to embed “stuffing” into household appliances for interacting with the Internet, not to mention the potential rise in the price of products.

However, with the development of wireless technologies, cheaper production of microcircuits and widespread globalization, the concept of the Internet of Things has begun to be resorted to more often. ARM microprocessors with increased energy efficiency compared to desktop models began to gain more and more popularity.

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Another important event happened in 2009 – the number of devices connected to the global network exceeded the world’s population. And the number of such “things” will only grow, because electronics is beginning to be built into almost everything. By 2020, the number of “smart things” has approached 50 billion, including lamps, microwave ovens, refrigerators, air conditioners and more. And most importantly, large companies have begun to implement specific projects.

Network connection. The classic way for PCs, servers, printers and some other devices. Provides the highest data transfer rate, but does not allow technology to be mobile.
3G / 4G / 5G. The coverage area of ​​mobile networks covers all major cities of the planet and most of other settlements. For example, 5G can provide speeds of up to 1-2 Gbps, which is almost as good as a wired connection.
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wi-Max and analogues. Data transmission over a short distance – in an apartment, house, office. Allows small appliances to wirelessly connect to the network.
NFC, RFID and the like. Radio Frequency Identification – automatic identification of objects. The data stored in RFID tags is read or written using radio signals. Visually, labels look like small tags attached to things.
Satellite Internet. With the launch of the Starlink network and its analogues, this method of communication of things may become one of the main ones, especially in remote regions where there is no mobile network coverage.

Thanks to all the technologies described above, “smart things” can interact both at the level of an individual room, and on the scale of an entire city or even a planet.

Internet things generate information using all kinds of sensors or sensors. The data is transmitted to built-in controllers, microprocessors, which process them and transmit them further via wired or wireless networks. In cloud storage or other data centers, the collected information is processed and monitored remotely.

In fact, everything is quite simple. Imagine the very first Internet toaster. From your mobile phone, directly from the transport, you give the command to start. It is transmitted “over the air” to the server, and from there it goes to the control device in the house. The toaster starts toasting your favorite croutons, and the sensors check the doneness level. At the end, you receive a notification on your phone that everything is ready.

Now imagine all this on an even larger scale. From the phone or on-board computer of the car, you can control the lighting at home, make the microwave oven warm up food, turn on the water for the bathroom, activate the air conditioner.

The matter is not limited to the comfort for one user – the Internet of Things allows you to monitor transport, all kinds of goods, conduct almost autonomous construction, and more. Many projects exist not only on paper.

Internet of things today
The scope of application is practically unlimited. Machines, even the simplest ones, can be of immense value when properly organized. Let’s take a look at a few examples already implemented.

In several major cities in the United States, BigBelly has organized a system of smart trash cans. Inside each of them there are several sensors that analyze the fullness of the tank and transmit information to the “cloud”. Based on this information, the optimal route of the garbage trucks is drawn up. As a result, workers do not waste time and fuel cleaning those points that are not yet filled, saving the resource of the equipment. In the future, with the development of unmanned vehicles, developers want to make even garbage trucks completely autonomous, excluding a person from the process.

The most popular system and the clearest example of the concept of the Internet of Things is the smart home. We have already written a lot of useful materials about him. In it, almost all devices have access to the network and the ability to remotely control. There are several large companies on the market that are ready to turn your home into a smart home on a turnkey basis. These include Control4, FIBARO, Wulian Smart Home and others.

Of course, this pleasure is expensive, so you can turn your home into a “smart” one in stages, for example, by buying various things. For example, Xiaomi offers a huge selection: smart vacuum cleaner, air purifier, induction cooker, smart bulbs and sockets. All this can be controlled directly from your smartphone.

Most recently, the Megafon company proposed monitoring the health status of patients based on the Internet of Things. A SIM card will be built into medical equipment, through which doctors will be able to remotely receive information about a person’s health status. For patients with hypertension, this technology can save lives.

Moreover, the Internet of Things will allow operations to be carried out remotely. For example, the University of California has already developed a system called Raven II, with which a doctor can remotely perform a wide variety of operations.

Main problems and prospects
Any technologies both provide new opportunities and give rise to various problems. When it comes to the Internet of Things, there are several potential threats.

Surveillance . Already, the browser literally records your every step on the web and “loads” contextual advertising. Now imagine that large companies will know almost your entire daily routine: what you eat, how much you sleep, and even what time you make coffee in the morning. Many are not happy with this prospect.

Hacking devices. Within the framework of one smart home, this is not so scary, it is unlikely that a smart vacuum cleaner can harm you. But if we talk about hacking utility systems or autonomous robots in an enterprise, then everything can turn into a global disaster.

Interaction of smart things. Artificial intelligence does not exist yet, so all devices work according to a previously programmed algorithm. Yes, there is some adaptability, but failure most often leads to device failure or worse, malfunctioning. The latter is especially dangerous when there is a whole system of smart devices.

Rising unemployment. Every autonomous machine is a potentially lost job. Already, there are completely autonomous warehouses, where dozens of forklifts transport entire racks and replace most of the staff.

Despite these disadvantages, the benefits of the Internet of Things will be colossal, both at the level of each individual user and for the state as a whole. Some experts predict that the transition to the Internet of Things is inevitable, the development of interaction algorithms and the standardization of this area is only a matter of time.

The number of wearable electronics is growing rapidly, and nanotechnology, flexible screens and the latest processors will allow electronics to be embedded in literally anything, including the person himself.