From Smart door bells to smart appliances, we can now get our hands on just about everything “smart”. Our house hold items are increasingly connected to the web. This creates our “smart homes” which make up a huge part of the Internet of Things (IoT). It doesn’t stop there though, connected machinery and equipment in factories have been the driving force behind the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, which is moving beyond the sheer technological, human and societal dimension.

More on that here: How Industry 4.0 is revolutionising manufacturing

Experts predict that more than half of new businesses will run on the IoT by 2020, but in-light-of a recent report by ATG ACCESS which found that more than 2/3rd’s of Brits don’t know what a Smart City is; here’s a post on everything you need to know about the IoT in our connected world.

What is the Internet of Things?

The Internet of Things (better known as IoT), is an umbrella term used to define the billions of physical devices across the globe that are connected to the internet, collecting and sharing data by ‘talking’ to each other. Connected devices can be combined with automated systems, to gather information, analyse it and create an action, to help humans to complete particular tasks. For example, a Smart Fridge can assess the items contained within, inform its owner of the lack of an item and make an order to replace it – Without any human interaction.

In reality, this may seem like an unnecessary need but this is just one example. IoT allows devices on closed private internet connections to communicate with others and the internet of things brings those networks together to create a more connected world at large.

More examples? A speaker that can be controlled with your voice to play music is an IoT device, as is a door bell which shows live footage of the person on your door step or a smart plug used in your office (for when you forget to turn the heater off). An IoT device can also be defined more seriously, as a driver-less automated vehicle or even a whole smart city like this one.

Put simply, the Internet of Things is the name given to objects that wouldn’t usually have an internet connection and would normally be operated through human action. So, a smartphone or tablet would not be considered as IoT devices.

The history of IoT

IoT is not a new concept, big tech organisations have been discussing the internet of things for years and the first web connected toaster was unveiled in 1989 at an internet networking show. However, progress elsewhere else was very slow.

Since then, technology has come a long way. The internet is faster and more accessible, through mobile devices and wifi. Thanks to the adoption on IPv6, there is now an unlimited number of IP addresses for devices to be connected to. Meaning that the possibilities for the IoT now are endless.

Kevin Ashton coined the phrase ‘Internet of Things’ in 1999. Although it took almost ten years for the technology to catch up with the vision!

Why do connected devices need to share data?

“Just because something can be connected to the internet, doesn’t mean it should be” is a widely debated topic. Many argue that there is simply not enough security in place to protect our privacy. Others argue that devices which collect data for a specific purpose can be very useful for the buyer and may have a larger impact on the wider economy.

IoT allows us to be more efficient in how we go about our daily lives. Organisations, governments and the wider population are provided with the opportunity to re-imagine how they deliver and consume products and services.

The scope of data across the Internet of Things has been very beneficial to the Manufacturing Industry in particular. Thanks to SCADA and robotics, industrial equipment has been transformed to become automated and much more responsive. This sector even has its own sub-type of IoT, known as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). Access to data has aided organisations to gather more accurate information on their systems and make changes as a result.

Within industrial manufacturing, sensors can be used to monitor equipment and system performance, cut down on wastage and to improve efficiency. The Annual Manufacturing report 2018 found that 80% of manufacturers see the positive impact of digital technologies (such as sensors) on the supply chain.

Agriculture is another industry that has been transformed by IoT. Due to the ability to share important data from soil sensors and GPS technology, planting, Irrigation, harvesting and soil monitoring have become centralised.

How big is the Internet of Things?

Findings from PWC show the number of smart devices in the home have almost doubled in the past two years and 40% of device owners are expecting to upgrade within the next two years.

According to the Tech Nation 2018 report, the UK digital technology sector is worth £184 billion and set to continue in its rapid growth.

Research company Gartner estimate that there will be 20 billion connected “things” by 2020 across the world. In their recent e-book Leading the IoT things are defined as “dedicated-function objects, such as vending machines, jet engines, connected cars and a myriad of other examples”.

The UK is a global leader in digital technology investment and employs over 2.1 million people in its digital tech economy, which is growing 2.6 times faster than any other industry in the UK. Consumers are found to purchase more IoT devices, whilst businesses are found to spend more.

These figures and findings are very promising for the future of IoT in the United Kingdom.

Is the Internet of Things secure?

Much to Amazon’s dismay, earlier this year people across the UK reported that their Alexa smart home devices we’re letting out “random bursts of creepy laughter”.

Read here: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/07/amazon-alexa-random-creepy-laughter-company-fixing

The issue which was acknowledged by the online retail giant as a “developed new skill”, is just one example which proves that IoT is still in its infancy. Other products have shown delays in connecting with each other and several security issues have arose between a number of online devices.

Security is looked at as one of the greatest issues with IoT. Sensors in smart devices often collect sensitive data like what you say and how you use your internet in your home. Combined information from sensors can very quickly create a picture of who you are and outline the key details of your identity. It is for this reason that the IoT causes a vast privacy headache!

Anything connected to the internet can be hacked and that is no different for the Internet of Things. The gap between the digital and physical worlds is bridged by the IoT, so if connected devices are hacked there can be real-world consequences. For example, if a driver-less car is hacked – there could be very serious implications.

The ‘Secure by Design review has been put in place by the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS). Developed by experts in the industry and government, the code of practice will create guidelines which will ensure that all devices are made more secure by their manufacturers by 2020.  This will ensure the safety of the consumers using connected devices.

What next for IoT?

As the number of connected devices continue to grow, our living and working environments will become filled with smart devices. The IoT will  begin to be accepted as ‘normal’ in an interconnected world.

We’re sure there’s much more to come in industry 4.0. and we can’t wait!

“If you invent a breakthrough in artificial intelligence, so machines can learn, that is worth 10 Microsofts.” — Bill Gates

If you want to play a role in the internet of things, get in touch with us on 01925 320 960 where we can discuss your recruitment options in detail. We look forward to talking to you soon!

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