Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Internet of everything

The Internet has become so 'social' that we tend to think of it solely as a communication tool -- for humans.

But, the Internet began and remains also a network of connected devices.  In fact, there are more devices on the Internet than there are humans on the planet.  Indeed, this is MIT's Technology Review's 'Year of the Internet of Things.'

Meanwhile, Cisco's chief technology and strategy officer, Padmasree Warrior, in a recent interview with McKinsey and Co, suggests there are two types of (technical) connectivity. One is the high-bandwidth, e.g., video and media-based connections and the other are the low-bandwidth data gathering, monitoring and analytic services.  In her words,

"We believe that today only 1 percent of what can be connected in the world is actually connected. As an industry, it took us about 20 years to connect 1 percent of the world. And in the next ten years, we believe that number will go up dramatically. We’ll make significant progress in connecting the 99 percent that’s still unconnected. That will be people, that will be devices, and that will be a lot more information on the network.

So when we say “the Internet of Everything,” we mean an intelligent way to connect processes with data and things. Not just the Internet of Things, not just connecting the devices onto the network, but how can you use the information that’s being collected to drive better processes, better decision making for businesses, and better lifestyles for users and consumers? And we mean more efficient ways to analyze that data through analytics from the network—which is our expertise—to make every single vertical (manufacturing, retail, transportation) significantly different than what it is today.
So if I drill deeper into this, one of the things that I think we find to be inevitable is that there will be a lot more connectivity, and there will be two kinds of connectivity. One kind of connectivity will deliver very rich media experiences to us, through video. Video will be much more prevalent than it is today.
There will be another set of data or implications, which is all of these sensors that will connect— not necessarily high bandwidth data, but low bandwidth data, continuous streaming of low bit-rate data. And the patterns in these two kinds of data and applications are going to be very different."
Elsewhere, in a bizarre experiment, one human, T. D. Moore, decided to contact ('ping') every device on the Internet... from a room in his home.  See the article in MIT's Technology Review.

And, for more on mass pervasiveness of inter-connected systems, there is a new book from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard.  See here.

Update: November 2014

The dark side of the Internet of things: For a view on how corporations own 'things' indirectly due to ubiquitous and continuous connectivity, click here.

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