The Internet of Things Invasion- Is It Already Here?
Your alarm didn't ring as the internet enabled device calculated quickly that the traffic today is going to be fluid and hence it decided to wake you up 10 mins later. When it finally starts playing your favourite song from your current playlist, you get up and enter the bathroom where the music follows you. While you do your business, sensors placed inside the commode, check if you are healthy (not going to dwell on the details). Under the shower, you get visual and audible cues to know how soon you have to get out to reduce your energy consumption but also to leave on time for work.
You enter the kitchen when you are ready and your coffee machine is ready to serve you hot coffee while the TV plays the latest news which is relevant to you. You eat your plate of fresh fruits and your refrigerator is already ordering the next batch for the coming week.
You walk out of the house and the air-conditioning and the lights automatically turn-off. You are near your car and forgot if you locked the door or not. No problem, just lock it through your cell phone.
While you are reviewing your daily schedule on your tablet, your car is driving you to office on the most optimal route. Your shoe sends you a notification on your phone to remind you that you still need to make 17 000 steps this week to burn the number of calories you had targeted.
Imagine starting the day like that? Is this science fiction? Not anymore!
We are this close to living in a world like this and in some aspects of our lives the IoT invasion has already started. And the scenario I just shared is just one aspect of IoT. Street lights, wearable technologies, medical equipment, smart cities, the list goes on… Anything man-made can become a smart device connected to the internet and make our life easier. The limit is only the innovator’s imagination.
At the MODs conference, we learnt that by 2020, there will be 50 billion connected devices to the internet (a market worth of 19 $trillion). Companies like IBM, Mediatek, Samsung Business, and Ubuntu talked about the next generation of devices they were working on and software that goes with it. And it was an exciting place to be. Learning from people who were “exploring strange new worlds, going boldly where no man has gone before.” A few things that made a mark on me, were:
Why Internet of things?
The applications for the Internet of Things helps gather astronomical amounts of data: from smart cities to home appliances to wearable tech, the granularity and scale of data that can be gathered makes my head spin. It is an Eldorado for companies wanting to study customer behavior but also increase their user experience by giving them exactly what they need. In the age of the desktop, the data we would gather would be the search patterns of people, the sites they visited. With the mobile revolution we started getting one new dimension with the exact geolocation of the user. And now with IOT we can also know their exact behaviors. Do you like to shower with cold water? Do you eat more fruits? Where is your kid’s school bag? How is your heart working? Scary at times, but fascinating as well.
Like any new adventure, it always comes with a new set of challenges and the biggest challenge for the IOT industry is privacy and security. With all these devices around us connected to the internet, even your body can be hacked by someone who decides to join the dark side of the force. And how much do you want your service providers to know about you?
Building a connected device requires you to think differently about software, UX/design, networking, Data Management and Analytics. Just remember the kind of new design challenges that saw the day with the advent of the mobile phone. And then look around you to see the new challenges raised by the smart watches. Now imagine how things can be in a future where everything will be connected.
And since the domain is still in its infancy there are too many standards for IoT. Hypercat, AllJoyn, Thread, OIC, IIC, oneM2M. These are all different standards competing to be the benchmark which will rule the internet someday. Meanwhile making connected device communicate with another is a nightmare and is something every developer needs to think about seriously while developing the product. My bet is that Thread (which belongs to Google and which will obviously have an edge on other standards because of the already huge ecosystem they have created around Android) will be a force we will have to recon with in the future. But then again, one thing which is never going to work in this world is predictions about the future.
After we came back from the MODS conference, we spent a lot of time discussing, debating around watercoolers and during coffee breaks about IOT. Well guess what, some of our developers had already worked on IOT some 10 years back. It turns out that one of our Senior PHP developer was once instrumental in creating a door sensor system which collected data about different body temperatures. And we were thinking of its applications in airports or hospitals, for example. It would be interesting to one day be able to explore this new frontier. And this time I say without any hesitation that this prediction will soon become real. Because at Gaja, we have always been early adopters of new or niche technologies (see our other posts about Zend, Umbraco or Nopcommerce if you want to know more about us).
We would love to hear your thoughts about IOT and in our free time we can engage in interesting debates around it. Till then, stay connected…
Vincent Naveen | International Project Manager
Our previous posts from the MODS 2015: