The future is made of intelligent objects and…data
The fact that the amount of digital data that surrounds us is constantly increasing is not new. As we go throughout our day each of us produces a trail of new data along the way. Not only do we create data on a professional level, but on a personal level as well. Every social media update, text message, email, YouTube comment and etc. are all data. This stream of data through the internet allows individuals through the use of devices, or “things,” to exchange information.
What is the Internet of Things? (IoT)
At least conceptually, the IoT is not entirely complex; it describes a reality where “things” are able to exchange information with one another. To understand the scope of the IoT, think of objects that fall outside of the PC, smartphone or tablet categories that use the internet to communicate – essentially everyday objects communicating via the internet by exchanging data collected by sensors, accelerometers, GPS, etc. to provide us with services and information.
What are some of the applications?
Let’s look at IoT in the transportation industry. Traffic signals could send cars information about the distance to an approaching stoplight. In response, cars could adjust their speed based on the information received. Or parking lot sensors could send vehicles information about space availability, location and cost. That would save a lot of time trying to find parking for work, a baseball game or other event.
In the world of healthcare, look beyond the health monitoring devices that we have today. What if your medication bottle reminded you to take the pill you’ve been forgetting?
The possibilities of the IoT in home automation are staggering. Smart washing machines could select the washing programme automatically based on the information received from the clothes themselves. The fridge could notify you of the expiration of a certain package of food. Those who do not have a green thumb would appreciate the IoT pot informing the watering can when the plants are in need of water. How about an alarm clock that adjusts the alarm time based on the current traffic reports? You would never be late to that 8:00 a.m. meeting because of an accident again (or at least you will no longer have traffic as an excuse).
The IoT adds up fast
Gartner estimates that in a typical house there will be over 500 objects connected by 2022! (1)
Internet of Things Units Installed Base by Category
Source: Gartner (November 2014)(1)
IoT applications will cover safety, health, entertainment and other areas of our lives. The reality is the Internet of Things, at least in its early stages, is already a here in Wearable Technologies. Research firm IDC estimates that by 2018, 112 million units of wearable technologies will be shipped (2).
We will see the Internet of Things turn our city into a Smart City. Cisco is already collaborating with a few cities on innovative projects involving IoT(3).
According to Gartner, the number of connections between things today is already greater than the number of traditional Internet connections. The research firm estimates about 25 billion items will be constantly connected to the network by 2020(4).
IoT as a driver for the Storage of Everything (SoE)
This new data generated by objects will need to be transmitted through wireless technologies using unique identification. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) or NFC chips (Near Field Communication) already allow things to have a unique ID and to communicate certain types of information. Similarly, the objects will also need a unique IP address on the Internet. The IoT will therefore be fully realised only with the transition from Internet Protocol v4 to Internet Protocol v6 as the standard IPv4 will not be able to provide the amount of IP addresses required for these objects.
IPv4 uses 32-bit addressing which equates to 232 IP addresses against IPv6 that uses a 128-bit addressing which equates to 2128 IP addresses. To translate this into numbers: to exceed the limit of 4.3 billion IPv4 addresses we would need to move to IPv6 which would supply 340 trillion trillion trillion(5).
The data transmitted over the Internet can be collected in a central database and then monitored, analysed, processed. The Internet of Things can therefore be the driver of a new era of digital storage called Storage of Everything (SoE).
The collection, transmission and processing in real time of this huge amount of data brings us back to the conversation of Big Data and the storage architectures needed to support it. Most of this data will be unstructured, requiring IoT and SoE applications to collect and analyse it from thousands and thousands of objects in order to make it useful, and they will need to do it in in real time.
Many of the large manufacturers in data storage are aware of these needs and have already started to make the changes necessary by designing systems that enable their customers to effectively manage the Internet of Thing and the Storage of Everything.
The IoT will unlock enormous potential in technology and everyday life. We will be surrounded by billions of intelligent objects able to communicate by exchanging data on the Internet – even our cities will soon become smart! In order to keep up with the IP addresses required by the IoT we will need to transition to the IPv6 standard. IoT will also be a driver for new solutions of digital storage and analysis of data in real time.
Cloud platforms appear to be the best systems to support the Internet of Things and related Storage of Everything. In fact, many manufacturers have already started their race to offer its customers scalable, efficient and reliable solutions to manage the Big Data generated by IoT.
Only five years to 2020 and to billions of possible things communicating with each other. Can’t wait? You could take the first step in the Internet of Things by purchasing a wearable device.