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The Internet of Things!

Imagine having a room that has a music system and one particular day you return
home exhausted and your music system knows that as your phones calendar app
shows your busy day schedule and bio-sensors on your body detect stress levels by
monitoring blood pressure levels and heartbeat rate and send all this information
across which is interpreted by the music system as soon as you enter your room,
which then switches from a louder genre of music you usually listen to, to a more
soothing music.
How about this? You are wearing a bracelet on your hand which senses your sleep
cycles and wakes you up by judging the most appropriate moment and when you
wake up, it communicates with other things in your home to setup a chain of
events, from telling your coffee maker to make the coffee to your geyser to turn on
and help you get ready for your day ahead.
This is the Internet of Things, the next big technology revolution that everybody is
talking about.
Rephrasing Abraham Lincoln to explain the Internet, Internet is of the people, by the
people and for the people. It was designed in such a way. This new Internet, IoT, is
not just about connecting people, its about connecting things where things can
start to share their experiences with other things. These things are given senses
just like us humans and the ability to communicate. Things can be anything from
your refrigerator, your door, your keys to your dog, all connected over a network.
We are talking of connecting 50 billion objects to the internet by 2020, roughly 8
objects to everybody up from 1.5 objects connected to each person on an average
today.
Now how do we go about doing it? All these things have sensors, pretty similar to
sensors on our phones and in part are connected to a network through a unique ID.
Any device connected to the Internet today has an IP Address that enables it to
send and receive information over the internet. A similar thing can be done in the
IoT by providing each thing with a unique IP address, an IPv6 (Internet Protocol
Version 6) address. IPv6 is nothing but a range of addresses to be assigned to things
all over the world. It is an upgrade over IPv4 whose address space was not going to
be enough for future use. So the switch to IPv6 was made whose address space can
be utilized to give each atom on Earth a unique address. (IPv6 has a total of
3*10^38 addresses!)
This opens up a whole lot of employment and innovation opportunities as it has
applications in Energy conservation, healthcare up gradation, agriculture
advancements, and climate control.
Your room knows when to open up the windows and curtains to let the cool air from
outside to come in instead of turning up the A.C, thus conserving energy. Your
doctor knows when to prescribe medicines or send an Ambulance across to your
place to prevent a major health emergency by getting information on his laptop
from your different body sensors.

Farmers are more aware about the health of their crops and their water pipes know
when and how much water to give the different crops. We can manage vehicular
traffic better by allowing vehicles and traffic light controllers to communicate, thus
saving time and preventing accidents and opening a whole new dimension for the
automotive enthusiasts.
Smart meters on the rooftops of homes can communicate with the electricity grid
and the home appliances to decide when the appliance will be run and what energy
resource it will use thus helping efficiently use different sources of energy to make
the appliances work.
It has huge implications for the gaming industry as well which can take games to
a whole new level. One such implication being thought of is playing a particular
game but with all the objects and people in the current surrounding as a part of the
game.
The number of people over 65 is set to double in the coming years which means ehealth and monitoring is set to become a huge area for the IoT. The impact on
Indias economy itself is set to be huge- pumping of billions of dollars- equivalent to
a huge percentage of todays GDP.
On the whole it seems like a brilliant scope but the amount of complexities involved
will be huge and more often than not the question arises whether we are going for
too much complexity- connected with so many things at once- for lesser benefits?
But the answer from the promoters is that the ever smarter generations should not
find it tough and should embrace it lovingly.
Privacy (everybody can see everybody as everything and anything is connected)
and Digital security will become an even bigger issue. My house heater knows that
Im not in the house and so it need not turn on but what if this information is hacked
by thieves outside?
Skeptics argue that we are heading for an even bigger technocratic society where
the technology giants will have even greater powers with all the worlds information
and their dependence on them.
It is also being touted as a weapon of mass destruction through viruses, Trojans
which can wreak havoc in such a tightly knit digital world. Countries could be
fighting cyber wars in a world of IoT. Hacking and Terrorism capabilities are
magnified beyond belief.
Individually focused advertising becomes possible through IoT. For example Drug
ads and Medical Insurance ads pop up on my phone as soon as my bracelet detects
a problem with my heart, thus transforming the marketing and advertising industry.
But it could also act as a major intrusion.
But all is not doom and gloom as it is also a major growth area for so many
industries. This is highlighted by the fact that Tech Giants such as Google and
Samsung (for a minute lets just assume that!) are betting big on IoT. Google
recently bought Nest, a company that makes thermostats (which is a thing in the
IoT), for 3.2 billion dollars! Samsung acquired Smart Labs, an open platform for

smart devices. Apple announced a new smart home framework called HomeKit,
which can be used for controlling connected devices inside of a users home.
So maybe the next time you open your refrigerator it will not only tell you the things
that are inside but also what you should make or eat depending upon your mood,
your activity levels etc.
Ill end this with a quite apt quote by Mark Weiser: The most profound technologies
are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life
until they are indistinguishable from it.