The Internet of Things
Representational pic

The Internet of Things

IoT is a simple concept that enables devices to communicate intelligently throughthe Internet and turns devices into smart devices.


The Internet of Things is a group of several devices or systems (including machines, houses, vehicles, etc.) interconnected through Internet, which enables several devices or systems to collect data from the environment and exchange that data among them. The term Internet of Things (IoT) was first coined by Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer in 1999, while he was working in Auto-ID Lab or Centre. He coined this term, referring to a global network of Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID)-connected objects. It can be seen from the picture that all things related to our society are interconnected through Internet, and this concept is called the Internet of Things. As it links several machines or devices or systems, it has various names given by different industries or companies, but the concept is same. The names includes: 1. M2M (Machine to Machine) 2. Internet of Everything (CISCO System) 3. World-Size Web (Bruce Schneier) 4. Skynet (Terminator Movie)

Where can we find IoT?

IoT is everywhere, mainly because it is a network of several devices connected through the Internet. As several devices or machines or systems of daily life are connected through Internet, we can say that IoT is everywhere. For example, we can describe a smart classroom concept, which is a part of IoT. And the classroom is called smart because it uses the concept of IoT, which make the classroom smart. In the picture we can see several devices such as lights, nest cam or drop cam, projector, laptops, thermostat, and digital TV marked in red circles, which are connected together through a network or we can say through Internet. Generally in normal classrooms the above-mentioned devices are not connected with each other. So, they are called normal classrooms. But here in the above picture, as all the devices or systems are connected with each other through Internet, it is called a smart classroom, which is only possible with the concept of IoT. There are many advantages of a smart classroom. For example, we all know that in every classroom there will be some students who may have a vision problem and are not able to see far objects or writings on the board. But in a smart classroom the laptop of each student is connected to a network to which the projector is also connected. So all the information displayed in the board in the classroom is easily visible to the students on their own laptops. In this way the problem of students with vision problem can be solved. Let us see another example where the concept of IoT helps in a major field of human activity like health care. 

A person wearing a health tracking wristband, which is a product of IoT concept. And this band is continuously tracing and gathering information about that person's health condition and transferring it to the network where it is recorded. From that network the information is being transferred to the mobile phone of the same person as a notification, so that he/she can provide his/ her bio-feedback in his/her mobile phone. Now suppose the condition of the person suddenly shows deterioration (heart-attack, stroke, asthma-attack, etc.) then he can be easily saved by this IoT concept in the following way. 

In the above case, whenever a health condition arises, a bio-feedback is generated in the mobile phone of the person as a notification that alerts him/her as an "Emergency". Now if the person is able to click on that button then he or she will be connected to the nearest hospital or nursing home, which is connected to the same network. And whenever the person does so, the hospital or nursing home will be able to trace his address by using his or her IP address by which he or she is connected to that network. And so they will be able to send an ambulance immediately to that address of that person to pick him up from that place and save his or her life. Not only this, suppose after picking up by ambulance the person faints and is not able  to communicate with the attending doctor and suppose no member of his family is present at that time, then also the doctor can get all the required information he needs about the patient's health to diagnose and take necessary steps. So, we can see that the IoT concept in the medical field has a great advantage and can save lives by timely action. 

Top applications of IoT

Some fields where the concept of IoT has been implemented are: 1. Traffic monitoring 2. Health/medical field 3. Security 4. Transport and logistics 5. Daily life. 

Risks of IoT

As IoT is a network of several devices connected through Internet, it is exposed to some risk. For example,   hacker can access all the personal and health information by hacking into the network. Any device connecting to the Internet with an operating system comes with the possibility of being compromised, in turn becoming a backdoor for attackers into the enterprise. 

Security in IoT

1. To improve security, an IoT device that needs to be directly accessible over the Internet, should be segmented into its own network and have restricted network access. 2. Security experts have warned of the potential risk of large numbers of unsecured devices connecting to the Internet since the IoT concept was first proposed in the late 1990s. 3. The best way to give security to IoT is to secure the network in which the several devices are connected rather than giving security to the devices. 4. It will be good if the security is implemented in an encrypted manner, so that if a hacker in any way is able to hack the network he will not be able to get the required information as it is encrypted. 

Future scope

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a hot topic and today has several billion devices are interconnected through it. IoT is a simple concept that enables devices to communicate intelligently through the Internet and turns devices into smart devices. According to a recent report, the number of IoT devices installed has reached 4.2 billion units worldwide, and it is predicted that the number may increase about many-fold by 2020. With billions of connected devices, IoT will provide vast amounts of actionable data in real time. Organisations of all kinds and across all industries can use this information to create new operating models, bring products to market faster, and develop more efficient business processes. As the Internet of Things continues to develop, further potential is estimated by combining related technology approaches and concepts such as cloud computing, Big Data, future Internet, robotics and AI technologies. However, the Internet of Things is still maturing, and there are a number of factors, that limits the full exploitation of the IoT. Some of these factors are: 1) There is no clear approach for the utilization of distinctive identifiers and numbering spaces for various kinds of determined and volatile objects present in the global scale. 2) There is limited further development of IoT reference architectures. 3) There is no clear approach for enabling innovation, trust and ownership of data in the IoT. 4) There are difficulties in developing business potential in the IoT domain. 5) There is need for large-scale testing and integration environments, having complex sensor networks which stimulate innovation through reflection and experience. 6) It is very obvious that overcoming these hurdles would result in an enhanced exploitation of the Internet of Things potential by a stronger cross-domain interactivity, awareness and utilization of an infinite problem-solving space. 

Peer Javeed Iqbal is working in IGNOU Regional Centre Srinagar as Consultant/Academic Incharge and has expertise in Cyber Law and Information Security.

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