“The Internet of Things, sometimes referred to as the Internet of Objects, will change everything—including ourselves,” says Dave Evans, Cisco’s chief futurist. The term refers to a set of technologies that will connect the real and digital worlds by embedding sensors in everyday objects and establishing real-time communications between objects and machines. Evans maintains this represents nothing less than the next evolution of the Internet, a huge leap forward in our ability to gather, analyze and distribute information.
“With a trillion sensors embedded in the environment—all connected by computing systems, software and services—it will be possible to hear the heartbeat of the Earth, impacting human interaction with the globe as profoundly as the Internet has revolutionized communications,” says Peter Hartwell, senior researcher at HP Labs.
But first, the Internet of Things needs to be built. Sensors that understand everything from temperature, light and moisture to motion, pressure and stress, need to be connected. Software has to be written to enable meaningful communication between people and their devices and between the devices themselves. In short, the Internet of Things needs to move from being a vision to a reality.
This is happening now. Though gaps in technology remain, for example, a trillion tiny sensors will need a power source, IoT startups are making a leap of faith that current advances in sensing, computing and energy will be sufficient to unlock a new world of possibility. They are shipping early versions of their products on the belief that their products and the enabling technologies will get better quickly.