A Guide to IoT (the Internet of Things)


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Jun 24, 2016
What is the Internet of Things (IoT)?:

The internet of things (IoT) is the network of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.SOURCE:Wikipedia

Internet of Things, How did we reach this point?:

Considering how much we use the "Internet of Things" term we thought it would be helpful to look at how it got started and who were some of the important people and projects that helped move it from its first glimpses into today's trending topic.

1832: An electromagnetic telegraph was created by Baron Schilling in Russia, and in 1833 Carl Friedrich Gauss and Wilhelm Weber invented their own code to communicate over a distance of 1200 m within Göttingen, Germany.

: Samuel Morse sends the first morse code public telegraph message "What hath God wrought?" from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore.

1926: Nikola Tesla in an interview with Colliers magazine:

"When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole.........and the instruments through which we shall be able to do this will be amazingly simple compared with our present telephone. A man will be able to carry one in his vest pocket."

1950: Alan Turing in his article Computing Machinery and Intelligence in the Oxford Mind Journal (Via@Kevin_Ashton)

"...It can also be maintained that it is best to provide the machine with the best sense organs that money can buy, and then teach it to understand and speak English. This process could follow the normal teaching of a child."

1964: In Understanding Media Marshall McLuhan stated:

"....by means of electric media, we set up a dynamic by which all previous technologies -- including cities -- will be translated into information systems"

1966: Karl Steinbuch a German computer science pioneer said "In a few decades time, computers will be interwoven into almost every industrial product"


: Beginnings of TCP/IP

: Domain Name System is introduced

: Tim Berners-Lee proposes the World Wide Web

1990: John Romkey created the first Internet ‘device’, a toaster that could be turned on and off over the Internet. At the October '89 INTEROP conference, Dan Lynch, President of Interop promised Romkey that, if Romkey was able to "bring up his toaster on the Net," the appliance would be given star placement in the floor-wide exhibitors at the conference. The toaster was connected to a computer with TCP/IP networking. It then used an information base (SNMP MIB) to turn the power on. (See also: Xerox PARC networked coke machine)

: The first web page was created by Tim Berners-Lee

1991: Mark Weiser's Scientific American article on ubiquitous computing called ‘The Computer for the 21st Century’ is written.

The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it”.

1993: Created by Quentin Stafford-Fraser and Paul Jardetzky the Trojan Room Coffee Pot was located in the 'Trojan Room' within the Computer Laboratory of the University of Cambridge and was used to monitor the pot levels with an image being updated about 3x a minute and sent to the buildings server. It was later put online for viewing once browsers could display images. (via @snim2)

1994: Steve Mann creates WearCam.

1995: The Internet goes commercial with Amazon and Echobay (Ebay)

1997: Paul Saffo's prescient article "Sensors: The Next Wave of Infotech Innovation" (Via: Geoffrey Barrows)

Google is incorporated

1998: inTouch a project at MIT was developed by Scott Brave, Andrew Dahley, and Professor Hiroshi Ishii (Via:@mrosenblatt)http://web.media.mit.edu/~ishii/

"....We then present inTouch, which applies Synchronized Distributed Physical Objects to create a "tangible telephone" for long distance haptic communication." - Original paper (PDF), Video

1998: A year before losing his battle to cancer Mark Weiser continues his explorations into the topic and constructed a water fountain outside his office whose flow and height mimicked the volume and price trends of the stock market.

"Ubiquitous computing is roughly the opposite of virtual reality," Weiser wrote "Where virtual reality puts people inside a computer-generated world, ubiquitous computing forces the computer to live out here in the world with people."

1999 - A big year for the IoT and MIT

The Internet of Things term is coined by Kevin Ashton executive director of the Auto-ID Center:

"I could be wrong, but I'm fairly sure the phrase "Internet of Things" started life as the title of a presentation I made at Procter & Gamble (P&G) in 1999. Linking the new idea of RFID in P&G's supply chain to the then-red-hot topic of the Internet was more than just a good way to get executive attention. It summed up an important insight which is stil often misunderstood." - Full article

1999: Neil Gershenfeld was speaking about similar things from the MIT Media Lab in his book When Things Start to Think and when establishing the Center for Bits and Atoms in 2001

in retrospect it looks like the rapid growth of the World Wide Web may have been just the trigger charge that is now setting off the real explosion, as things start to use the Net.

1999: Auto-ID Labs opens which is the research-oriented successor to the MIT Auto-ID Center, originally founded by Kevin Ashton, David Brock and Sanjay Sarma. They helped develop the Electronic Product Code or EPC, a global RFID-based item identification system intended to replace the UPC bar code.

1999 - Neil Gross in Business Week

"In the next century, planet earth will don an electronic skin. It will use the Internet as a scaffold to support and transmit its sensations. This skin is already being stitched together. It consists of millions of embedded electronic measuring devices: thermostats, pressure gauges, pollution detectors, cameras, microphones, glucose sensors, EKGs, electroencephalographs. These will probe and monitor cities and endangered species, the atmosphere, our ships, highways and fleets of trucks, our conversations, our bodies--even our dreams." - Full Article

2000: Starting off what is now becoming a meme, LG announces it's first Internet refrigerator plans

2002: The Ambient Orb created by David Rose and others in a spin-off from the MIT Media Lab is released into the wild (and is still on the market) with NY Times Magazine naming it as one of the Ideas of the Year. The Orb monitors the Dow Jones, personal portfolios, weather and other data sources and changes its color based on the dynamic parameters.

2003-2004: The term is mentioned in main-stream publications like The Guardian, Scientific American and theBoston Globe.

- Projects like Cooltown, Internet0, and the Disappearing Computer initiative seek to implement some of the ideas, and the Internet of Things term starts to appear in book titles for the first time.

- RFID is deployed on a massive scale by the US Department of Defense in their Savi program and Walmart in the commercial world.

2005: The IoT hit another level when the UN's International Telecommunications Union ITU published its first reporton the topic.

"A new dimension has been added to the world of information and communication technologies (ICTs): fromanytime, any place connectivity for anyone, we will now have connectivity for anything. Connections will multiply and create an entirely new dynamic network of networks – an Internet of Things"

2005: Ahead of its time, the Nabaztag (Now a part of Aldebaran Robotics) was originally manufactured by the company Violet and created by Rafi Haladjian and Olivier Mével. The little WiFi enbabled rabbit was able to alert and speak to you about stock market reports, news headlines, alarm clock, RSS-Feeds, etc as well as connect to each other (see: Nabaztag opera). The statement was "if you can even connect rabbits, then you can connect anything" (via@inakivazquez)

2006-2008: Recognition by the EU, and the First European IOT conference is held

A group of companies launched the IPSO Alliance to promote the use of Internet Protocol (IP) in networks of "smart objects" and to enable the Internet of Things. The IPSO alliance now boasts over 50 member companies, including Bosch, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, SAP, Sun, Google and Fujitsu.

2008: The FCC voted 5-0 to approve opening the use of the 'white space' spectrum

2008-2009: The Internet of Things was "Born"

According to Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG), the Internet of Things was born in between 2008 and 2009 at simply the point in time when more “things or objects” were connected to the Internet than people.

Citing the growth of smartphones, tablet PCs, etc the number of devices connected to the Internet was brought to 12.5 billion in 2010 (Related: see Kevin Kelly's One Machine), while the world’s human population increased to 6.8 billion, making the number of connected devices per person more than 1 (1.84 to be exact) for the first time in history.

2008: U.S. National Intelligence Council listed the Internet of Things as one of the 6 "Disruptive Civil Technologies" with potential impacts on US interests out to 2025.

: A whole range of IoT platforms (Pachube, Thingspeak, etc), standards (6LoWPAN, Dash7, etc) hardware and software (Contiki, TinyOS, etc) have developed but the timeline details of each is outside the scope of the article.

2010: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao calls the IOT a key industry for China and has plans to make major investments in it.

2011: IPV6 public launch - The new protocol allows for 2128 (approximately 340 undecillion or 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456) addresses or as Steven Leibson put it, “we could assign an IPV6 address to every atom on the surface of the earth, and still have enough addresses left to do another 100+ earths.

- Cisco, IBM, Ericsson produce large educational and marketing initiatives on the topic.

- Arduino and other hardware platforms mature and make the IoT accessible to DIY'ers taking interest in the topic.

Acquisitions and VC investment in the space including the IoT platform Pachube being aquired, IoT security company Mocano raising a round of funding and other VC's taking notice of the industry.

Internet of Things based communities mature on social networks like Linkedin and the UK's Technology Strategy Board networking platform _connect

- Europe shows their continued interest and support in the subject with their ICT-FP7 Work Programme, IoT-A anddigital future directives and the UK government grant (£5m) to develop the IoT in the UK

China continues to fund and support developmental research in the field of Internet of Things at institutions likeShanghai Institute and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

- The creation of the IoT-GSI Global Standards Initiative which promotes a unified approach for development of technical standards enabling the Internet of Things on a global scale.

- And finally new Projects, Twitter Posts, Interviews, Events, Presentations, Videos and IoT news added daily on the topic.

A Guide to the Internet of Things: How Billions of online objects are making the web wiser:

Whats Next?
Cyber security expert Bruce Schneier warns of impending IoT disaster


Smart cities are dangerous for everyone, security expert says.

Security technologist and author Bruce Schneier has expressed his concern about smart cities and the IoT, saying allowing technology to rule our lives could end in catastrophe.

Furthermore, if secret services really are trying to influence elections by hacking the systems of political parties and releasing embarrassing emails, they will almost certainly attempt to hack into the increasing number of internet-connected voting machines for the same ends.

Schneier is the author of multiple encryption algorithms, founder of security company Counterpane, and former chief technology officer of BT Managed Security Solutions.

“It’s one thing if your smart door lock can be eavesdropped on to know who is home. It’s another thing entirely if it can be hacked to allow a burglar to open the door or prevent you opening your door,” Schneier wrote in an article published by Motherboard.

“A hacker who can deny you control of your car, or take over control, is much more dangerous than one who can eavesdrop on your conversations or track your car’s location.

“With the advent of the Internet of Things [IoT] and cyber-physical systems in general, we’ve given the internet hands and feet: the ability to directly affect the physical world. What used to be attacks against data and information have become attacks against flesh, steel and concrete.”

Schneier explained that many of the devices now being connected to the internet, including industrial systems controlling major facilities, have security only as an afterthought, and that the IoT “will allow for attacks we can’t even imagine”.

The key weaknesses come from software control systems, the connections between systems and autonomous systems. Schneier highlighted a lack of security patching in control systems, the ability to compromise networks via insecure devices connected to them, especially IoT devices, and the security dangers of increased automation.

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