Thursday, November 27, 2014

InterNet of Things

The internet of things is the scenario in which network devices can sense and collect data from the world around us, and then share that data across the internet where it can be processed and utilized for various useful applications.

These network devices are physical objects with embedded technology that can interact with internal or external environment. Technologies used in IOT are wireless technologies, micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) and the Internet.
A thing in internet of thing can be anything from animal or human organ with a bio chip transponder, from refrigerator with built in sensor to adjust temperature based on outside temperature and goods stored in it – or any other man made or natural object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network. What revolutionary about internet of things is that these devices can interact with each other without human intervention and automate the whole process?

Internet of Things is already part of some of our life. For e.g. there are Pill-shaped micro cameras which can navigate the human digestive tract and send back thousands of images to pinpoint sources of illness. 
Precision farming equipment with wireless links to data collected from remote satellites and ground sensors can take into account crop conditions and adjust the way each individual part of a field is farmed—for instance, by spreading extra fertilizer on areas that need more nutrients.

Billboards in Japan look back at passersby, evaluating how they fit consumer profiles, and instantly change displayed messages based on those assessments. We already have smart devices connected to internet like laptops, smart phones, tablets, smart TV, smart refrigerator, video consoles and what not. By 2020, it is estimated that there will be 50 billion such devices connected to internet. These will have the potential to transform the world we live in because they can monitor our every move, and change it according to our convenience.

Imagine, you wake up in the morning to find your morning tea just prepared by the smart kettle based on alarm that you have set on your alarm clock. Sensor-embedded kitchen devices support precision-control gastronomic cooking in one home, while at the same time offering to remotely monitor the food consumption of elderly relatives in another. When you walk outside in the hot summer day you find that your car ignition was already started to keep AC on, you just have to sit inside and the car automatically drives to your destination. This is just a small example, when thousands of devices will interact with each other and analyze the data surrounding you, it can create the world which we have never imagined. The fact is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things -- using data they gathered without any help from us -- we would be able to track and count everything and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling and whether they were fresh or past their best.

IOT certainly opens up an interesting range of possibilities. So where are my heart sensors, intelligent homes, neural networks etc.? The fact of the matter is, IOT still faces numerous challenges that have to be overcome before it can be rolled out. Some of the major ones include:

  •  Absence of unifying infrastructure-At its heart, IOT is a grand scheme of hardware and software that combined provide the customer a unique and enriching experience. Unfortunately all the companies engaged in exploring the market have developed walled garden ecosystems, i.e. they have all developed separate platforms for their competing IOT platforms. IOT desperately needs the equalizing power of open source programs that level the playing field, stimulate crowdsourcing and engender creativity.
  • Effective power sources- A device embedded in our bodies or on it must be powered by a battery that is cheap, long lasting and efficient.  Existing battery technologies that power smart watches such as Galaxy. Gear are Lithium ion based and simply don’t have a long enough discharging cycle. Unconventional power technologies that rely on solar energy, vibrations and motion hold the key to the future of the IOT.

  • Deriving value from data – The IOT is bound to fuel an information explosion. Millions of devices would stream real time data about customer preferences, habits and behavior patterns. Enterprises will need to develop entirely new paradigms of data storage and analysis to fully exploit this valuable resource. Hence there would necessarily have to be major innovations in the fields of data storage, analytics andstorage networking.

  •  Security- Unsurprisingly IOT is heavily reliant on wireless technologies. Researchers across the globe are worried about the security implications of using devices that are designed to accept remote commands as the possibility of hacking cannot be ruled out. Some amusing examples include the demonstration of vulnerabilities in Japanese smart toilets and refrigerators. However there are more sinister possibilities for technologies such as supervisory control and data acquisition systems which control oil pipelines and nuclear power plants.

Internet of Things- An Indian Perspective
The race to capture the market in India is heating up. Cisco has announced that it will develop an end to end IOT innovation hub in Electronics City, Karnataka. It is slated to be the first IOT center in the Asian continent and would be spread over 5 sq. km. The city would be converted into a smart city by Cisco and other IT startups. Some of the features would include smart parking, intelligent lighting and adaptive smart water management. The entire city would be transformed into a Wi-Fi zone utilizing routers, access points and additional software that are embedded in city infrastructure as part of the City Infrastructure Management initiative. The most ambitious plan undertaken in this sector is the government’s plan to create hundred smart cities in India. The amount allocated to the plan in the 2014 budget is Rs. 7060 crores. However this plan will face several challenges. India currently has very limited broadband and wireless internet connections. The overall infrastructure in place is also severely lacking and poses a significant opportunity for companies that can provide hardware and software solutions in sectors such as cloud computing, mobile systems and data analytics. 

Future Prospects
The Internet of Things certainly opens up a number of exciting possibilities. However as this article has revealed, there is much to be worked out before the world can truly integrate itself in the IOT. There is no doubt that the next few years will see the rise of many new names, especially companies that will leverage this market to become the next big thing. If Indian companies position themselves to take advantage of this opportunity, we could be on the cusp of the next Indian IT revolution, an even bigger
And more inclusive one!

~ Shrey Datta PGDM 2014 Marketing
~ Vivek Mathews PGDM 2014 Marketing

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