February 3, 2015

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Internet of Things (IoT) - Evolution and Usage

There is much hype about the “Internet of Things”. The idea of an interconnected continuum of devices/objects/things in general emerged with RFID technology and this concept has been extended to the current vision that envisages a plethora of heterogeneous objects interacting with each other in the physical environment. IoT is a scenario in which objects/animals/people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

IoT has evolved from the convergence of wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet. Although the concept wasn't named until 1999, IoT has been in development for decades. The first Internet appliance, for example, was a Coke machine at Carnegie Melon University in the early 1980s. Programmers could connect to the machine over the Internet, check the status of the machine and determine whether or not there would be a cold drink awaiting them should they decide to make the trip down to the machine. This lead to another metamorphic change: the industrial Internet which brings intelligent machines together, advanced analytics, and the creativity of people at work. It's a huge collaboration of mind and machines.

You can see how technology is beginning to transform industrial sectors that play a huge role in our economy and lives: energy, aviation, transportation, and healthcare. Industrial machines are now being equipped with a growing number of electronic sensors that allow them to see, hear, feel, and share a lot more than ever before, generating prodigious amounts of data. Increasingly sophisticated analytics sift through the data, providing insights that allow us to operate the machines in entirely new ways, a lot more efficiently. It is asset optimization and system optimization. So, we are moving to a world where the machines we work with are not just intelligent but brilliant. They are self-aware, predictive, reactive and social.

Why does any of this matter at all? One, it's already allowing us to shift towards preventive, condition-based maintenance. Two, it is pushing us toward zero unplanned downtime, which means that there will be no more power outages, no more flight delays, etc. The implications can be huge - affecting all aspects of life. This new wave of innovation is fundamentally changing the way we work.

And we are not talking about the future. It’s happening all over right now. Einstein said, "I never think about the future — it comes soon enough." The big question is: Are you a part of this revolution?