As we continue to move deeper into the new millennium, we are continuously confronted with newer versions of current technology, down to even the simplest applications. Every few hours, we are prompted to update or upgrade, as the Internet of Things (IOT) becomes a stronger driving force in our day to day lives.
IOT is a phrase that describes the environment in which humans, animals and inanimate objects are equipped with the ability to transfer data without the need for human to human or human to computer interaction. If you are wondering what makes up this “universe”, the answer is almost everything. Everything from a farm animal with a biochip implant to a public bus that can tell you via your smartphone how close it is to your stop, is a “Thing” in the IOT.
IOT is so phenomenal because of how quickly it came into existence and its continuously steepening rate of expansion and development. According to WhatIs.com, the first Internet appliance was a Coca Cola machine located at Carnegie Melon University in the early 1980s. The machine was programmed so that through the Internet, programmers could check its status and determine whether there would be a cold drink waiting in the machine before making the physical trip to it. Just roughly thirty years later, even pacemakers and insulin regulators are “smart” or have the ability to communicate with other machines through the Internet.
The impact of IOT has opened up a unique market opportunity for “the ecosystem of intelligent systems”, according to an article on LinkedIn. Between 2012 and 2020, the revenue from technology and services is expected to explode, increasing to $8.9 trillion from $4.8 trillion. There is definitely a strong presence of demand for IOT solutions from both businesses and consumers, and it will only continue to expand. Ongoing development of smart cities, cars and houses will ensure the enabling of the continued rise of IOT, as well as the constant mission to improve the current connectivity infrastructure.
As IOT expands, some tech experts argue that the time is approaching during which we should begin to treat these “Things” like people. No, we haven’t made the leap to Artificial Intelligence just yet, though all of these Things do have a form of AI, which is an element in what makes them part of IOT. Rather, one should think of these machines and services as an employee, identifying how efficiently they can perform the function they are expected to perform, and whether all of their needs are met.
An article written for Tech Crunch uses Maslow’s pyramid-shaped hierarchy of needs, which is most well known for being employed as a paradigm for the human psyche with the most necessary human needs at the bottom and the more abstract or esoteric needs towards the top. Maslow theorizes that if fundamental needs are not met, there will be no desire for the higher level needs. The same applies to Things in that if they do not have the most basic functions, they will not be able to execute higher level functions.
Fundamental needs include power and connectivity, and of course before external connectivity can be achieved and performed efficiently, proper security and encoding needs must be met. Once Things are communicating with other Things, they will collect data, and need to determine how to handle said data, and at the apex of the pyramid are “smart needs” which make the combined properties of the Thing eligible contributors to the Internet of Things as a whole.
One of the key challenges in the expansion of the IOT market is the lack of standards to keep pace with the constant development of new Things. Using this hierarchy can possibly help to combat said challenge on an individual and global scale. Once we view Things in this way, perspectives will shift, allowing a plethora of possibilities as we continue to venture into the world of tomorrow.