The Internet of Things

By Imane Chafi

Imagine a new technological device created to let everyone search for information instantly using only our thoughts. This device would be embedded into our brain in a way that would let us use our thoughts as a mechanism to receive knowledge as quickly as possible on any subject.
If you want to know the name of a flower you saw while taking a walk outside, the device tells you exactly what you are looking for in a matter of minutes. You can’t remember a formula or a chemical compound? The device shows you how to do complex equations and sends you data from around the world on chemical compounds.

 

Neuromedia

The renowned author and researcher, Michael Patrick Lynch, was the first to imagine this idea for a new device, which he called Neuromedia. Even though it may seem like a far-fetched dream, the idea is becoming more and more intriguing as the exchange of data by computer-based systems becomes part of our modern lifestyle. Indeed, Lynch used this device as an analogy to how the Internet of Things seems to be as present in our lives as a chip that is constantly sending us information in our brain. However, to understand why and how the Internet of Things has grown so much in the past decade, we must first know its real impact on everyday tasks.
What is the IoT?

The IoT, short for Internet of Things, is an immense system of items and products that use software intelligence, sensors and networks to exchange data and optimize the efficiency of wearable technology, store retails, transportation and many more material aspects to improve productivity and lessen human errors. The success of IoT is mostly due to its intricate way of combining physical tools and analytical technology to make smart appliances that do everything the physical tools are supposed to do, but with calculated precision and added optimization features.

 

Big Data

The Internet of Things uses a series of added information based on the device’s purpose by going through a cloud of information known as Big Data. Big data doesn’t have a fixed definition, since its grasp on our daily lives keeps expanding, but we can explain it as an enormous amount of data that surrounds us in various digital forms such as the Internet, mobile apps, television programs and many more. The devices connected to Big Data are then able to use the information stored in clouds to perform their tasks more efficiently by taking into account constraints like saving more energy in smart homes (1).

To understand the impact of IoT, economist Jeremy Rifkin stated that the IoT could be compared to a ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ that changes the way people interact not only with appliances, but also with each other.
How does the IoT affect us?

The Internet of Things surrounds us in such a way that we have now become accustomed to its presence. To see the impacts of IoT, you only need to look in front of you. The computers or mobile screens you see were at first data collectors, then they became a way to interact with the outside world via emails, and they are now the most powerful devices on earth. With the addition of the Internet, the computers and mobile phones are not only ways to communicate with other people or write essays on, they are intelligent machines. They help people with their daily tasks by analyzing their work patterns, compiling the data from the sites they go in and the amount of time they spend on apps to create work schedules that fit every individual perfectly.

For example, if a person uses the Microsoft word processing app for long periods of time, advertisement companies can, through the IoT, create targeted advertisements that are precise and optimized to the client’s needs. To learn more about how the IoT affects us individually so that you are fully aware of its presence, here is a list of main applications that use IoT to improve human lives.

 

If you want to know the name of a flower you saw while taking a walk outside, the device tells you exactly what you are looking for in a matter of minutes. You can’t remember a formula or a chemical compound? The device shows you how to do complex equations and sends you data from around the world on chemical compounds.

 

Applications

1. Energy saving

The most important aspect that was optimized by IoT is energy saving. Indeed, in a world where pollution-related diseases and smog levels are at an all time high, we needed to find a way to save energy in a small amount of time. This is where the Internet of Things was really helpful. By creating a software that could tap into houses’ electricity and heating time schedules, we could optimize the best time frames for the washing machines, water consumption, lighting and heating to not only lower the price of electricity used by smart homes, but also lower the carbon impact on our planet (2).

2. Infrastructure

By implementing sensors and monitors on bridges and tunnels, we could check on the infrastructures’ stability 24/7 and prevent accidents even before they happen, without having to go on site. The monitor estimates when a bridge is going to collapse based on its stability, the influx of traffic that passes on it every day and the ductility of the bridge’s main materials (3).

3. Agriculture

Whether it’s with drones, with the optimized fertilization of crops by wireless devices, or with new and intelligent trucks, the agriculture field has immensely benefited from the Internet of Things. Drones in agriculture are helping over-populated countries, such as China, to improve their soil and field analysis by creating 3D models of fields and adding processed information about the land’s humidity, the quality of the soils and the nitrogen level management (4).

 

What’s next?

The Internet of Things isn’t just for big corporations and infrastructure engineers. Now that you know how the Internet of Things works and what it is used for, you too can implement technologies into any physical device you desire, whether it’s to link your shower tap with an alarm on your phone so that the water automatically stops when the alarm goes off, or to make noise cancelling headphones that create destructive interference to read a few books in peace. As human beings, we can only store so much in our memory before we start to forget essential things. However, by designing storage units of data that we precisely know can keep all the excess information, the Internet of Things will immensely sophisticate our analytical methods and our way of life.
References

1: SAS, (ref. October 7th 2018), What is Big Data [online], URL

2: JAMMES, François. (ref. October 6th 2018), Internet of Things in Energy Efficiency :
The Internet of Things [online], Ubiquity, Volume 2016 Issue February 2016, URL

3: BENNET et al. (ref. October 7th 2018), Smart Bridges, Smart Tunnels [online], University of Cambridge UK, 28p. URL

4: MAZUR, Michael. (ref. October 7th 2018), Six Ways Drones Are Revolutionizing Agriculture [online], MIT technology review, URL

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