The Internet of Things (IoT) connects networks of sensors, actuators and smart objects with physical 'things' (including everyday and industrial objects) in such a way as to make them intelligent, programmable and more capable of interacting with humans and each other. We are developing IoT platforms, tools and technologies to collect, discover, process, validate, reuse, share, connect and repurpose sensor and observation data from a variety of research and commercial applications.
The “Industry 4.0” concept originating with smart factories in Germany includes IoT elements. Even Complex Event Processing initiatives from the early 90’s contained IoT-like objectives. “Smart City” initiatives – and connected cars, smart houses, wearables – they all largely fall under the IoT umbrella. For me, the essence of IoT resides in the source of the data, which are the sensors. Those smart devices generate data about activities, events, and influencing factors that provide visibility into performance and support decision processes across a variety of industries and consumer channels. It’s something that’s been in place for quite some time in many industries, but is a totally new concept for others.
The primary driver is the broader adoption and deployment of sensors and smart devices. Sensors are smaller, cheaper and they require less power and have more compute capacity. No longer are they limited to high capital equipment and factory infrastructure; they are literally everywhere, from the traffic signal helping to optimize traffic flow to the watch that is monitoring your vital signs. Sensors are pervasive in your everyday environment.
Kevin Ashton (one of the founders of IoT) wrote:
“If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us -- we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. We need to empower computers with their own means of gathering information, so they can see, hear and smell the world for themselves, in all its random glory. Sensor technology enables computers to observe, identify and understand the world—without the limitations of human-entered data."