Internet of Things – When Everything is Connected

Nov 20, 2012

Internet of ThingsDoes this sound familiar? You’re about to head off to work, you check that you’ve got everything you need for the day, you step out the front door and leave for work.

Some 15 minutes later you begin to wonder if you turned off the iron before you left. You distinctly remember leaving it in an upright position, but did you unplug it or not?

Depending on your disposition, here’s when you excuse yourself and go home to check or cross your fingers and hope that your insurance will cover any damages.

To some degree, we’ve probably all been there. Either that, or you’re completely oblivious to such trivial things in which case the rest of this article won’t make much sense to you at all.

But what if there were a way to check up on all those little things that we care about, their location and state easily readable in our media of choice? What if everything were connected?

On a popular level, this is what is referred to as Internet of Things.

Let’s consider the implications. If every item produced had a nano chip with an IP-stack to send and receive small pieces of information, it’s really just our imagination that stops us from realizing what can be achieved.

With the Internet of Things in place, you could imagine that the food packages in your fridge report to you when they are about to get out of date, the car keys can give an alarm when you walk out the door and you don’t have the keys to the garage with you.

Even combined scenarios is thinkable; the Hollandaise in your fridge notices you have eggs about to reach their “best before”-date and knows you have ham and English muffins at home and suggests you make Eggs Benedict for breakfast.

At the business end of things, you can imagine how machines start “reasoning” with each other and can – by themselves – figure out which machine will be the bottleneck and change the production plans accordingly.

The produced items, whatever they may be, can determine if they’ve been stolen or misplaced and act on it.

Sounds scary? This is an area of technology where there’s a great discrepancy in the level of maturity. Some would read the above and think “so, what’s new?” whereas others would certainly feel like they’re literally about to step into a page of 1984 by George Orwell.

Whether it’s scary or enticing, it’s still some time away from reaching the level I portrayed above. Like most areas of innovation, we’ll most likely see progress being made in waves, where the first wave would contain the possibility of having machines give more accurate reports on maintenance needs, wear and tear, consumption, operating hours and fault codes etc, so that the handling of MRO can be even more proactive than it is today.

No matter the continuation process, it’s definitely worthwhile keeping this area on your radar screen.