The ‘Internet of Things’ describes the trend for environments, buildings, vehicles, clothing, portable devices and other objects to have more and more information associated to them. Electronic devices and appliances may have the ability to communicate, sense and optimise their energy efficiency and use using wireless sensors
A widespread Internet of Things could transform how we live in cites, how we travel, how we live sustainably and how our health services are operated. It is estimated that by 2020, 50 billion objects will be connected with a potential market for services in the hundreds of billions of pounds.
The Internet of Things revolution is already happening. A number of terms are already in use, such as ‘Smart Cities’, ‘Connected Cars’, ‘V2G’ [Vehicle to Grid], ‘Connected World’, ‘Machine to Machine’, etc. Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is often seen as a prerequisite for the Internet of Things. If all objects of daily life were equipped with radio tags, they could be identified and inventoried by computers. However, unique identification of things may be achieved through other means such as barcodes or 2D Codes as well.
A near invisible network of radio frequency identification tags (RFID) is being deployed on almost every type of consumer item. These tiny, traceable chips, which can be scanned wirelessly, are being produced in their billions and are capable of being connected to the internet in an instant. This so-called ‘Ambient intelligence’ promises to createa global network of physical objects every bit as pervasive and ubiquitous as the worldwide web itself.
For example, the photograph above is of a ‘smart wine rack‘ that is connected to the internet by a RIFID to let the owner know when a bottle has been removed. In an article in June 2011, the BBCreported on a number of uses of this technology in everday life, from the online laundry service that lets you know when it is your turn in the queue, to internet enabled buildings to allow control over energy use, heating and lighting from remote locations.
To read more about the Internet of Things, a good starting place is ’Council’ a think tank supported by the EU availbale by clicking on this link. Council undertakes research, puts on workshps and promotes academic conferences.
Another useful resource is a video of a presentation by Alice M. Agogino, who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and serves on the governing council. She is the Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering at University of California at Berkeley. Her research interests include intelligent learning systems, information retrieval and data mining, intelligent control and manufacturing, wireless sensor networks, multimedia and computer-aided design, design databases, artifcial intelligence and decision and expert systems.
By: Jeremy Barnett