Smart machines and facilities are no longer just concepts in science fiction movies. The “future” is happening right now, with the internet of things (IoT) at the forefront. Certainly, IoT has come a long way from the time the term was first introduced by MIT’s Auto-ID Center co-founder Kevin Ashton in 1994. Ashton’s vision of standardized systems for communications of interconnected devices or machine-to-machine (M2M) interactions is just beginning to come into full view.
IoT is more than just technology hype. It’s predicted to continue to gain ground in the next five years or so, seamlessly integrating cloud, Big Data, wearable technology, and ubiquitous computing, among others, thereby spurring on the era of a hyper-connected world.
In the Disruptive Technologies Global Trends 2025 report published in 2008, the National Intelligence Council predicts that all things will possibly be remotely controlled, detected, and monitored. The image below from the International Telecommunications Union-Telecommunications’ (ITU-T) JCA-IoT-D-2 Rev.8 document, illustrates a roadmap showing further proliferation of IoT in the coming years:
In a drive that can be interpreted as an attempt to ensure proper global integration of IoT, information technology organizations and leaders are putting forth standards and protocols to fully optimize, maximize, and secure IoT. Standardization is expected to change the IoT technology development game, setting best practices and conventions for data sharing and M2M interactions. It may also be the answer to the growing concerns over security, regarding the diffusion of IoT.
Google, Silicon Labs, and Nest Labs have joined the standardization fray with the Thread protocol. The Thread protocol aims to standardize and secure communications between home devices connected using the Internet with AES encryption. Qualcomm, meanwhile, has teamed up with the Linux Foundation, Microsoft, LG, and Cisco to create the AllSeen Alliance. The AllSeen Alliance has been promoting the open-source AllJoyn project, which also aims to connect devices using wireless networks. It has conceived the AllJoyn Service Framework that allows secure broadcasting of information such as device information, text, images, easy device connection, controlling devices via phones or tablets, and audio streaming.
On the other hand, Intel, together with Samsung and Dell, created the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC). The consortium also aims to maximize IoT through a platform that ensures smooth exchange of data between devices and secure data sharing. OIC pushes for IP protection and branding for IoT devices and product interoperability across different platforms (e.g., Android, Windows, Linux, etc.).
UK-based technology firms, led by FlexEye Ltd, formed the Hyper/CAT consortium. It is pushing for Hyper/CAT, an “open, lightweight JSON-based hypermedia catalogue format” for easy access and sharing of data between devices. The said format allows categorization and analysis of data to ensure delivery of relevant data to users.
IoT standardization will empower developers as it brings in more open-source codes for seamless and faster device integration, as well as secure and relevant data sharing. The biggest winner in the advancement of IoT, however, is us – the consumer. It basically means more interconnected devices and machines on all spectrums – homes, industries, and government. The ability to control machines like cars and refrigerators using your phone or smart watches will be prevalent.
Over the next few years, military logistics and information gathering will improve and evolve with the use of augmented reality, Big Data, and robotics. The capability to predict and prevent disasters, crimes, or acts of terrorism – just like in the movie Minority Report or the TV series Person of Interest – will also be a reality. All of these are just the tip of the iceberg in regards to what IoT can bring into our world. With IoT standards coming into play, possibilities in diverse industries are seemingly endless.
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