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The Research Nest

Current Trends in IoT

World of smart cities, Future Wireless Technology and more!

In today’s world of constantly evolving technology, internet of things has emerged as the next shiny tech bauble. It has brought the whole world at a place just like a tree with internet track of all the researches and discoveries, of what’s happening in the world around as its roots. Here is an article added to the “Last Week” series as we keep track of latest developments in this domain. Let us now explore some current trends in IoT.

Role of IoT in Smart Cities

Modern cities are brimming with objects that receive, collect, and transmit data. This includes not only mobile phones but also objects actually embedded into our cities such as traffic lights and air pollution stations. Even something as simple as a garbage bin can now be connected to internet, meaning that it forms part of what is called the Internet of Things (IoT). A smart city collects the data from these digital objects, and uses it to create new products and services that makes city more livable.

Cities like Singapore, London and San Francisco use urban sensing (which captures how people interact with each other and their surrounding), geo-tracking (which records movement of the people) and real time analytics (which processes the vast amount of collected data) to better manage energy and water supply, reduce contamination and traffic jams, optimize garbage collection routes or help people park their cars. Smart city initiatives don’t just have the potential to help make life more livable, they can help us better the world.

Privacy Concerns in IoT

We just saw how beneficial IoT can be but on the contrary, it has few major concerns. Although they have huge potential to make life better, the possibility of increasingly smarter city raises serious privacy and cyber-crime concerns. Through sensors embedded into our cities, and the smartphones in our pockets, smart cities will have the power to constantly identify where people are, who they are meeting and even perhaps what they are doing. Most people tend to underestimate that the smartphone they carry around is a very powerful sensing tool. In order to function, your phone continuously shares data about your location, digital and physical interaction, and more. Just as you give facebook the right to own anything you post on your profile, the data collected by online sensors across smart cities will be owned by a variety of corporations, including internet service providers (ISPs) the right to sell user information, such as browsing history to third parties. As cities get smarter, our digital information becomes even more vulnerable to cyber-attacks especially when they hit local authorities. Sometimes hackers can take control of entire buildings or systems.

Array of things (AoT), How about that!

Imagine, what if a light pole told you to watch for an icy patch of sidewalk ahead? What if an app told you the most populated route for a late night walk to the el-station by yourself? What if you could get weather and air quality information block-by-block instead of city-by-city? This is what the fascinating Array of Things project is capable of building these smart technologies for smart cities! It is an urban sensing project, a network of interactive, modular sensor boxes that was first installed in Chicago to collect real time data on the city’s environment, infrastructure, and activity for research and public use. These sensor nodes can measure every type of physical parameters like vibration, pressure, ozone, particular chemical content and even factors like standing water, precipitation, wind and pollutants. It is interested in monitoring the city’s environment and activity, not individuals. In fact, the technology and policy have been designed to specifically minimize any potential collection of data about individuals, so privacy protection is built into the design of the sensors and into the operating policies

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The next generation of wireless world!

Every decade or so, the wireless industry rolls out a new cellular communications standard that can transmit more data more quickly. The next round is already under development, Yes! It is what we call “5G” because it is the 5th major generation of these standards for encoding and transmitting data over radio waves. Recent generations like 4G in 2010 made technical improvements that brought data rates up to 200 kilobits per second to 100’s of megabits per second. 5G is expected to transmit 1 gigabit per second and perhaps as many as 10! Being able to send and receive data at this speed opens new opportunities for augmented and virtual reality systems, as well as automation. For instance, your car will learn to communicate with the other cars, traffic signals and you simply need to do nothing! But there is a mystery of something called “Latency” which needs to be reduced to 1 millisecond.

IoT in personalizing medicines!

Well this sounds as science fiction, but it may not be too far off from reality. Not yet convinced? Then this example might make it easier. Let us assume, a few years ago, a mechanic deep inside the dark hold of a freighter was trying to understand why a 6000 pound engine suddenly stopped working. Back then he would have had only his best guess to rely on, but today he has a secret weapon — IoT. With the help of thousands of sensors surrounding the engine he can accurately diagnose the reason of failure, moreover the engine could also be designed for similar instances in future. Similar logic can also be applied for health issues. Imagine if sensors could capture how you are feeling right now and that information can be uploaded on blockchain of your medical history, giving your doctor real-time access to a digital picture of your body and how it would respond to specific treatments. Even with all of today’s technology the information a doctor can receive from a patient is extremely limited and the diagnosis can take place only when patient and doctor are together, but what about the reason behind an illness which was quite a while ago? IoT is fundamental here as well. In medicine, it means that physicians can see how their patients are doing when they are at home, work, at the gym exercising or doing daily activities. This can be propitious in cases of cancer, virus-prone diseases.

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That’s all for this edition. Stay tuned for next article. Any suggestions or ideas to improve this series are welcome!

(This article was authored by Research Nest’s associate, Shyam Rangapure)

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