For most, the term Internet of Things (IoT) is a nebulous cloud of catch phrases and loosely connected peripherals. As more OEMs throw their hats into what most hope is the next form of mass computing, the meaning of IoT seems to become even further convoluted. Devices such as washers and dryers are being lumped together with home security, intelligent clothing, and hospital bedside monitors as developers sort out the best use cases for IoT, and make a mess out of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the process.
Along with others, Microsoft has a vision of what the Internet of Things (IoT) is or rather should mean to the general public and future developers. In a post about the Art of SQL Server Maintenance, Microsoft employee Mike Wilmot waxes poetically about the Internet of Things and its architecture in our society moving forward.
The Internet of Things may be better phrased: “Things on the Internet”... smart things that is. IoT is all about the current exponential rise of tens of billions of tiny, smart and cheap Internet-connected sensors placed all around the visible and invisible world… sensors that can be messaged as well as send messages back to us and each other. Sensors that can adjust to you and your business and adapt intelligently.
Three things… sensors, global networks and the Cloud are all empowering IoT growth because of its economic and social benefits. Sensor capabilities continue to grow, while cloud, network and sensor prices continue to plummet. IoT sensors are really good at one thing… measuring the data in systems and reporting those measurements to a centralized cloud that has a deep analytic infrastructure capable of computing enormous volumes of data at light speed.”
While the arguably lazy and poor choice of words to describe a world of connectivity using the Internet, the future of IoT seems to be pretty straightforward. Paraphrasing Wilmot's thesis, IoT can be summed up as a world of sensors tapping into the growing sphere of machine learning enabled by investments in cloud-connectivity. Historically, most businesses or industries relied on ‘experts’ to compile years, if not, decades of available information to predict trends and pinpoint probable occurrences to maximize effectiveness. With how IoT is unfolding currently, businesses, hospitals, schools and the like will now have access to relatively inexpensive and direct data continuously, allowing them to react and optimize their industries in near-real-time fashion.
Beyond specific devices or services, IoT will appear to remain a semi-nebulous affair while allowing users and customers in both the private and public sector to tap into a world of machine learning through specialized sensors and scenarios that best apply to them.