Imagine an average day, you head out to pick up a few groceries, walking because you are trying to increase your physicall activity. Your AppleWatch (or other divice) counts your steps, uploads the information to your health tracker app, and it allots you extra calories for the day. To pay for the milk and bread you tap on a few icons on your moble divice and the money gets transfered to the store, at the bottom of the receipt is a note telling you that the brand of breakfast cereal you purcased 3 weeks ago will be on sale next week. When you get home, the lock on your front door recognises your divice and unlocks for you, and the house turns on the light in the entrance way.
Welcome, to the Internet of Things.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is basically all kinds of different devices talking to each other over the internet. Just like I can send an e-mail to my parents to let them know we will be there for Easter, a heat sensor on an assembly line could send an e-mail to the service department to tell them that something is wrong. Applications for IoT are vast, items connected could range from smart phones, cars, biochip transponders, medical devices, or environmental monitoring equipment. IoT is also used with smart houses, and is expanding to smart cities. In 2013 the Global Standards Initiative on Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defined the IoT as "the infrastructure of the information society."
The first internet connected device was a Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University in 1982. Researchers at the university saw how annoying it could be when you went to the machine only to discover it was empty, so they hacked it. They added sensors and connectivity so the machine could report inventory status and if newly loaded drinks were cold. It didn't take long for the concept to catch on. In 1985, Peter T Lewis coined the term IoT when he stated "The Internet of Things, or IoT, is the integration of people, processes and technology with connectable devices and sensors to enable remote monitoring, status, manipulation and evaluation of trends of such devices."
The concept of electronically tracking things became popular, and commercially viable in 1999. With RFID, you could tag everything with small identifiers such as barcodes, QR codes, digital watermarking etc. and be able to keep track of where these items were.
Today's concept of IoT has gone beyond simply tagging and tracking things, to an integration of a wide variety of technologies, including wireless communication, learning machines, and sensor, among a few.
To give a real life example, I was watching an episode of "Operation Ouch" with my daughter and they were talking about patient monitoring following heart surgery. In the past a patient would have to be connected with several wires to multiple monitoring machines. On a regular basis nursing staff would have to come in and hand record on a chart what the various vital stats were. Somebody had been inspired by Formula One race cars which monitor things like tire pressure constantly. They developed a wearable device about 6-8 inch long that constantly monitors everything the medical staff wanted, and uploaded it directly to the hospital's computers. As there were no wires the patient could get out of bed any time they wanted and go for a walk. The patient could even go home for short periods of time, the device would continue to record the data, and the patient could either upload the data themselves, or once they were back in range, the medical device would do it automatically.
The concept of IoT is even starting to be seen in the organ world too. With Classic's new Maestro system a builder can set up a secure access point so that they can run diagnostics on the console while still in the shop. Here at Classic we are able to download system files of any Maestro organ and look at things like when it was powered up, how long it took, what codes were sent and when. In the picture below you can see the chamber hardware for a Maestro system, the light grey rectangular box in the top right of the photo is an antenna, to receive data from the console wirelessly.
The system won't yet e-mail a builder with a warning if the organist decides to try a little home repair, but maybe that's something we should think about.
Kickham, Victoria. "Size, Speed and Efficiency Drive Component Trends", Electronic Design, December 2016
Wong, William "IoT for the Consumer". Electronic Design, November 2016
Wong, William. "IoT-the Industrial Way". Electronic Design. June 2016
Wikipedia - Internet of Things