Automatic For The People

A Story of Things, Connected

Author — Ewan Cormack : IoT Experimenter

The “Internet of Things” is often referred to as a part of a vague vision for a utopian future, but the truth is that it’s already here, and it’s not even close to new.

Some restaurants, such as McDonald’s, were using micro-processor based interconnected Point of Sale machines as early as 1974, and in the same year a universal product code (UPC) label was used to ring up purchases at a supermarket for the first time.

The first internet connected devices actually predate the world wide web, for example John Romkey’s Internet Toaster or the Internet Coke Machine at Carnegie Mellon University. In fact, Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, where electric devices send data to each other and to servers who control them over interconnected systems, have existed in various industries since 1950, perhaps even earlier.

So why the buzz about it now?

Of course, the landscape of the Internet of Things is changing rapidly. The sheer number of interconnected devices has increased exponentially throughout the 21st century, driven by the miniaturisation of electronics, advances in power management and the near ubiquity of high speed wireless connectivity. The cheap prices brought on by mass production have created an incredible increase in availability of “smart” devices. As the technologies continue to improve and companies jump on the emerging opportunities, we can expect up to 50 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, according to Cisco — and this estimate is conservative, with Intel predicting 200 billion devices by the same date.

In the media, one of the central promises of the Internet of Things seems to be “smart” homes, from washing machines that text you when they’ve finished their spin cycle to kettles that automatically boil when you get home from work. The technology already exists for these processes and it will likely become cheaper and more user friendly as take up increases and the industry matures. However, in my opinion these ideas vastly underestimate the power of the IoT revolution which will occur in the next 10 to 20 years.

As all of the devices in our everyday lives gain the power to harvest huge quantities of data, and analysing that data becomes cheaper and easier than ever, we are likely to see a revolution of information. Big Data analysis plugged into, for example, the vast data set produced by fitness tracker bracelets will surely find new correlations and information which will help us to lead healthier lives. As the technology improves the peripheral devices themselves will be able to perform on-the-fly analysis for us, leading to a wide array of improvements, from making electricity savings in the household to live-predicting footfall at major events to reduce queueing times, or optimising patient flow through large hospitals.

There’s one thing we know for sure — the technology will continue to evolve, and we’re excited to be a part of it. Hive IT are a bunch of folk who like tinkering about with hardware, writing code and APIs and designing seamless user experiences.

As a service provider, we use our skills to enable our clients to innovate and exploit new technologies and opportunities

You can find out more by heading over to the Hive IoT website.