Internet innovation

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I study at the Rollins Center with many other classmates. Can you explain to them that the Internet of Things is going to take over the world?

Since you are asking this question, I assume you are also a believer in the future of IoT. For those that are not aware, Internet of Things (IoT) refers to an ever-expanding network of physical devices that feature an internet protocol (IP) address for web connectivity and the communication between them and other internet capable systems. It extends internet connectivity way beyond traditional hardware such as computers, smartphones and tablets and encompasses an entire range of sensor equipped products from refrigerators to cameras to smart cars.

Looking at the statistics and research, it seems that your comment carries some weight. The current network of interconnected devices across the globe numbers in the billions, according to research the actual number for 2015 was 13.4 billion, twice the world’s population. This is projected to triple by 2020 to 38.5 billion online devices, 26 times more things than people. According to tech analytics company Gartner, consumer applications will drive the number of connected devices and enterprise will account for most of the revenue.

This mass marriage of the physical to the digital can incorporate a huge range of devices and systems. Anything that collects or transmits sensory data via a link to a network to other connected devices or a central data management system is IoT. Most of us are aware of the commonly connected devices but others can include: home security systems, robot vacuums, water pipes, electric meters, drones, wearable tech, buildings, food dispensers, bridges, medical machinery and manufacturing systems.

The future holds a lot more for IoT which could be worth an estimated $11 trillion in global economic value by 2025, representing 11% of planetary GDP. The revenue potential for IoT related devices, services and applications is astronomical, this is why it requires innovation in technology and business models to support such a revolutionary digital expansion.

The ever-present shadow of cybersecurity threats also means that IoT needs a lot more research and development. At the moment, millions of these devices run on dated software with unpatched vulnerabilities, these holes will need to be plugged to stop this digital leakage. The so-called TIPPSS (Trust, Identity, Privacy, Protection, Safety and Security) risks need to be addressed as more and more things come online.

Higher education institutes can lead the way for innovation and development of IoT technologies, businesses, ethics, privacy policies and security. IoT is already on campus and studies suggest that students are coming to college with up to seven separate IoT devices such as: laptops, tablets, smartphones, e-readers, games consoles, mp3 players, wearable health devices, and cameras, all of which are Wi-Fi enabled.

Some colleges are now using IoT to aid communications, such as Virginia Tech, which uses student’s smartphones to send out announcements and alerts. The smart campus is evolving with devices now an integral part of most classes, smart parking apps, network-connected security systems, internet-controlled lighting, and smart gyms.

IoT is taking over the world, and it needs: researchers, educators, programmers, engineers, developers and students to lead its unrelenting march forward.

It is the greatest truth of our age: Information is not knowledge… Caleb Carr.

Written by Martin J. Young, former correspondent of Asia Times.

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