Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to uniquely identifiable objects and their virtual representations in an Internet-like structure. The term Internet of Things was proposed by Kevin Ashton in 1999[1] though the concept has been discussed since at least 1991.[2] The concept of the Internet of Things first became popular through the Auto-ID Center at MIT and related market analysis publications.[3] Radio-frequency identification (RFID) was seen as a prerequisite for the Internet of Things in the early days. If all objects and people in daily life were equipped with identifiers, they could be managed and inventoried by computers.[4][5] Besides using RFID, the tagging of things may be achieved through such technologies as near field communication, barcodes, QR codes and digital watermarking.[6][7]

Equipping all objects in the world with minuscule identifying devices or machine-readable identifiers could transform daily life.[8][9] For instance, business may no longer run out of stock or generate waste products, as involved parties would know which products are required and consumed.[9][need quotation to verify] A person's ability to interact with objects could be altered remotely based on immediate or present needs, in accordance with existing end-user agreements.[4] For example, such technology could enable much more powerful control of content creators and owners over their creations by better applying copyright restrictions and digital restrictions management, so a customer buying a Blu-ray disc containing a movie could choose to pay a high price and be able to watch the movie for a whole year, pay a moderate price and have the right to watch the movie for a week, or pay a low fee everytime she or he watches the movie.

According to Gartner, there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.[10] According to ABI Research, more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (Internet of Everything) by 2020.[11] Cisco created a dynamic "connections counter" to track the estimated number of connected things from July 2013 until July 2020 (methodology included).[12] This concept, where devices connect to the internet/web via low-power radio, is the most active research area in IoT. The low-power radios do not need to use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Lower-power and lower-cost alternatives are being explored under the category of Chirp Networks.[13]

Original definition[edit]

Bill Joy had envisioned D2D (Device to Device) communication, as part of his "Six Webs" framework (as far back as 1999 at the World Economic Forum at Davos);[14] it wasn't until Kevin Ashton that industry got a second look at the Internet of Things.

In a seminal 2009 article for the RFID Journal, "That 'Internet of Things' Thing", Ashton made the following assessment:

Today computers—and, therefore, the Internet—are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings—by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture, or scanning a bar code. Conventional diagrams of the Internet ... leave out the most numerous and important routers of all - people. The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy—all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. And that's a big deal. We're physical, and so is our environment ... You can't eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank. Ideas and information are important, but things matter much more. Yet today's information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things. 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. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.[15]

—Kevin Ashton, 'That 'Internet of Things' Thing', RFID Journal, July 22, 2009

As of 2014, research into the Internet of Things is still in its infancy.[citation needed] In consequence, we lack standard definitions for Internet of Things. With the potential for great mischief through hacking, security issues are pivotal to the success of systems-integration designs. A survey lists several IoT definitions as formulated by different researchers.[16]

Unique addressability of things[edit]

The original idea of the Auto-ID Center is based on RFID-tags and unique identification through the Electronic Product Code however this has evolved into objects having an IP address or URI.

An alternative view, from the world of the Semantic Web[17] focuses instead on making all things (not just those electronic, smart, or RFID-enabled) addressable by the existing naming protocols, such as URI. The objects themselves do not converse, but they may now be referred to by other agents, such as powerful centralized servers acting for their human owners.

The next generation of Internet applications using Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) would be able to communicate with devices attached to virtually all human-made objects because of the extremely large address space of the IPv6 protocol. This system would therefore be able to scale to the large numbers of objects envisaged.[18]

A combination of these ideas can be found in the current GS1/EPCglobal EPC Information Services[19] (EPCIS) specifications. This system is being used to identify objects in industries ranging from aerospace to fast moving consumer products and transportation logistics.[20]

A Basket of Remotes[edit]

It's expected to be a 19 Trillion USD market, said Cisco CEO[21] and, as that, many IoT devices will appear to take a piece of this huge market. Jean-Louis Gassée (Apple initial alumni team, and BeOS co-founder) has addressed an interesting article on Monday Note[22] referring the most probable problem to be the Basket of remotes where I'll have hundreds of application to interface with hundreds of devices.

There are multiple approaches to solve this problem being one of them the called predictive interaction [23] where cloud or fog based decision makers will predict the user's next action and trigger some reaction. Although this is interesting there will always be the need for user manual interaction as the user is still in control!

For user interaction, new technology leaders are joining forces to create standards for communication between devices. While AllJoyn alliance is composed the top 20 World technology leaders, there are also big companies that promote their own protocol like CCF from Intel.

This problem is also the hype for some very technical startup companies to leverage their fast capabilities.

  • AT&T Digital life is the most well known example as the solution for the basket of remotes. Their website [24] features all the home-automation and digital-life experiences. They provide the mobile application to control their closed ecosystem of branded devices that include the Yale Locks, Belkin WeMo or even other OEM devices;
  • Muzzley motd, for instance is that you shouldn't worry about the having zillions of devices as they will all fit in one single application][25] as manufacturers are joining their API's[26] to provide a all-in-one solution for users follow their own devices timeline and control them whenever they need;
  • my shortcut[27] is an approach that also includes a set of already defined devices and allow a Siri-Like interaction between the user and the end devices. Using voice commands, the user is granted the possibility to use the most common features of the IoT concept. In a TechCrunch article is said that there's the ability to control Sonos, Jawbone, EcoBee, Unikey, PebbleBee, MyRocki, BTMATE, OBD LINK, Greenbox, and Rachio;[28]
  • realtek IoT my things is also an application that aims to interface with the closed ecosystem from Realtek Semicondutors that provide devices like sensors and light control.[29]

The manufacturers are becoming more and more conscious about this problem, and thus began releasing their devices with open APIs. Those are the ones that these single IoT app companies are taking advantage of for quick integrations.

On the other side, there is still a lot of confusion on the IoT world and, many manufacturers are still waiting to see what to do and when to start. This could be a problem in terms of innovation, yet it also represents an opportunity for small companies that harbour new product designs to be acquired.

Trends and characteristics[edit]

Technology Roadmap: Internet of Things


Ambient intelligence and autonomous control are not part of the original concept of the Internet of Things. Ambient intelligence and autonomous control do not necessarily require Internet structures, either. However, there is a shift in research to integrate the concepts of the Internet of Things and autonomous control.[30] In the future the Internet of Things may be a non-deterministic and open network in which auto-organized or intelligent entities (Web services, SOA components), virtual objects (avatars) will be interoperable and able to act independently (pursuing their own objectives or shared ones) depending on the context, circumstances or environments.

Embedded intelligence[31] presents an "AI-oriented" perspective of Internet of Things, which can be more clearly defined as: leveraging the capacity to collect and analyze the digital traces left by people when interacting with widely deployed smart things to discover the knowledge about human life, environment interaction, as well as social connection/behavior.


The system will likely be an example of event-driven architecture,[32] bottom-up made (based on the context of processes and operations, in real-time) and will consider any subsidiary level. Therefore, model driven and functional approaches will coexist with new ones able to treat exceptions and unusual evolution of processes (Multi-agent systems, B-ADSc, etc.).

In an Internet of Things, the meaning of an event will not necessarily be based on a deterministic or syntactic model but would instead be based on the context of the event itself: this will also be a semantic web.[33] Consequently, it will not necessarily need common standards that would not be able to address every context or use: some actors (services, components, avatars) will accordingly be self-referenced and, if ever needed, adaptive to existing common standards (predicting everything would be no more than defining a "global finality" for everything that is just not possible with any of the current top-down approaches and standardizations). Some researchers argue that sensor networks are the most essential components of the Internet of Things.[16]

Complex system[edit]

In semi-open or closed loops (i.e. value chains, whenever a global finality can be settled) it will therefore be considered and studied as a Complex system[34] due to the huge number of different links and interactions between autonomous actors, and its capacity to integrate new actors. At the overall stage (full open loop) it will likely be seen as a chaotic environment (since systems have always finality).

Size considerations[edit]

The Internet of objects would encode 50 to 100 trillion objects, and be able to follow the movement of those objects. Human beings in surveyed urban environments are each surrounded by 1000 to 5000 trackable objects.[35]

Time considerations[edit]

In this Internet of Things, made of billions of parallel and simultaneous events, time will no more be used as a common and linear dimension[36] but will depend on each entity (object, process, information system, etc.). This Internet of Things will be accordingly based on massive parallel IT systems (Parallel computing). See logical clocks for descriptions.

Space considerations[edit]

In an Internet of Things, the precise geographic location of a thing—and also the precise geographic dimensions of a thing—will be critical.[37] Currently, the Internet has been primarily used to manage information processed by people. Therefore, facts about a thing, such as its location in time and space, have been less critical to track because the person processing the information can decide whether or not that information was important to the action being taken, and if so, add the missing information (or decide to not take the action). (Note that some things in the Internet of Things will be sensors, and sensor location is usually important.[38]) The GeoWeb and Digital Earth are promising applications that become possible when things can become organized and connected by location. However, challenges that remain include the constraints of variable spatial scales, the need to handle massive amounts of data, and an indexing for fast search and neighbour operations. If in the Internet of Things, things are able to take actions on their own initiative, this human-centric mediation role is eliminated, and the time-space context that we as humans take for granted must be given a central role in this information ecosystem. Just as standards play a key role in the Internet and the Web, geospatial standards will play a key role in the Internet of Things.

Sub systems[edit]

Not all elements in an Internet of Things will necessarily run in a global space. Think, for instance, of domotics running inside a Smart House. While the same technologies are used as elsewhere, the system might only be running on and available via a local network.


Internet of Things frameworks might help support the interaction between "things" and allow for more complex structures like Distributed computing and the development of Distributed applications. Currently, some Internet of Things frameworks seem to focus on real time data logging solutions like Xively (formerly Cosm and before that Pachube): offering some basis to work with many "things" and have them interact. Future developments might lead to specific Software development environments to create the software to work with the hardware used in the Internet of Things. Companies such as ThingWorx,[39][40] Raco Wireless,[41][42] nPhase[43] and Carriots[44][45] are developing technology platforms to provide this type of functionality for the Internet of Things.

The XMPP standards foundation XSF is creating such a framework in an fully open standard that isn't tied to any company and not connected to any cloud services. This initiative is called[46] or Chatty Things. XMPP provides a set of needed building blocks and a proven distributed solution that can scale with high security levels. The extensions are published at XMPP/extensions

The independently developed MASH IoT Platform was presented at the 2013 IEEE IoT conference in Mountain View, CA. MASH’s focus is asset management (assets=people/property/information, management=monitoring/control/configuration). Support is provided for design thru deployment with an included IDE, Android client and runtime. Based on a component modeling approach MASH includes support for user defined things and is completely data-driven.[47]


Fields of applications include: waste management, urban planning, environmental sensing, social interaction gadgets, sustainable urban environment, continuous care, emergency response, intelligent shopping, smart product management, smart meters, home automation and smart events.[48][49]

For example, Songdo, South Korea, the first of its kind fully equipped and wired ubiquitous, or smart city is near completion. Nearly everything in this digital metropolis of smart homes is planned to be wired, connected and turned into a constant stream of data that would be monitored and analyzed by an array of computers with little, or no human intervention. Thus, Internet of Things, or embedded intelligence in things, with "smart systems that are able to take over complex human perceptive and cognitive functions and frequently act unnoticeably in the background"[50] is a close reality.

Criticism and controversies[edit]

While technologists tout the Internet of Things as one more step toward a better world, scholars and social observers have some reservations and doubts about approaching ubiquitous computing revolution. Peter-Paul Verbeek, a professor of philosophy of technology at the University of Twente, Netherlands, writes that technology already influences our moral decision making, which in turns affects human agency, privacy and autonomy.[51] He cautions against viewing technology merely as a human tool and advocates instead to consider it as an active agent.

A different criticism is that the Internet of Things is being developed rapidly without appropriate consideration of the profound security challenges involved and the regulatory changes that might be necessary.[52] In particular, as the Internet of Things spreads widely, cyber attacks are likely to become an increasingly physical (rather than simply virtual) threat.[53]

The U.S. National Intelligence Council in an unclassified report maintains that it would be hard to deny "access to networks of sensors and remotely-controlled objects by enemies of the United States, criminals, and mischief makers...An open market for aggregated sensor data could serve the interests of commerce and security no less than it helps criminals and spies identify vulnerable targets. Thus, massively parallel sensor fusion may undermine social cohesion if it proves to be fundamentally incompatible with Fourth-Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search."[54] In general, the intelligence community views Internet of Things as a rich source of data.[55]

Given widespread recognition of the evolving nature of the design and management of the Internet of Things, sustainable and secure deployment of Internet of Things solutions must design for "anarchic scalability." [56] Application of the concept of anarchic scalability can be extended to physical systems (i.e. controlled real-world objects), by virtue of those systems being designed to account for uncertain management futures. This "hard anarchic scalabilty" thus provides a pathway forward to fully realize the potential of Internet of Things solutions by selectively constraining physical systems to allow for all management regimes without risking physical failure.

Justin Brookman, of the Center for Democracy and Technology, expressed concern regarding the impact of IoT on consumer privacy, saying that "There are some people in the commercial space who say, ‘Oh, big data — well, let’s collect everything, keep it around forever, we’ll pay for somebody to think about security later.’ The question is whether we want to have some sort of policy framework in place to limit that."[57]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) expressed concern regarding what is, in their view, the ability of IoT to erode people's control over their own lives. The ACLU wrote that "There’s simply no way to forecast how these immense powers -- disproportionately accumulating in the hands of corporations seeking financial advantage and governments craving ever more control -- will be used. Chances are Big Data and the Internet of Things will make it harder for us to control our own lives, as we grow increasingly transparent to powerful corporations and government institutions that are becoming more opaque to us."[58]

One often-neglected concern regarding IoT technologies pertains to the environmental impacts of the manufacture, use, and eventual disposal of all these semiconductor-rich devices. Modern electronics are replete with a wide variety of heavy metals and rare-earth metals, as well as highly toxic synthetic chemicals. This makes then very difficult to properly recycle. Electronic components are often simply incinerated or dumped in regular landfills, thereby polluting soil, groundwater, surface water, and air. Furthermore, the environmental cost of mining the rare-earth metals that are integral to modern electronic components continues to grow. With production of electronic equipment growing globally yet little of the metals (from end-of-life equipment) being recovered for reuse, the environmental impacts can be expected to increase.

Also, because the concept of IoT entails adding electronics to mundane devices (for example, simple light switches), and because the major driver for replacement of electronic components is often technological obsolescence rather than actual failure, it is reasonable to expect that items that previously were kept in service for many decades would see an accelerated replacement cycle if they were part of the IoT. For example, a traditional house built with 30 light switches and 30 electrical outlets might stand for 50 years, with all those components still being original at the end of that period. But a modern house built with the same number of switches and outlets set up for IoT might see each switch and outlet replaced at five-year intervals, in order to keep up-to-date with technological changes. This translates into a ten-fold increase in waste requiring disposal.

While IoT technology can serve as energy-conservation devices, it is important to keep in mind that everyday good habits can bring the same benefits. Practical, fundamental considerations such as these are often overlooked by marketers eager to induce consumers to purchase IoT items that may never have been needed in the first place.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ashton, Kevin (22 June 2009). "That 'Internet of Things' Thing, in the real world things matter more than ideas". RFID Journal. 
  2. ^ Mattern, Friedemann; Christian Floerkemeier (2010). "From the Internet of Computers to the Internet of Things". Informatik- Spektrum 33 (2): 107–121. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Analyst Anish gaddam interviewed by Sue Bushell in Computerworld, on 24 July 2000 ("M-commerce key to ubiquitous internet")
  4. ^ a b P. Magrassi, T. Berg, A World of Smart Objects, Gartner research report R-17-2243, 12 August 2002 [1]
  5. ^ Commission of the European Communities (18 June 2009). "Internet of Things — An action plan for Europe" (PDF). COM(2009) 278 final. 
  6. ^ Techvibes From M2M to The Internet of Things: Viewpoints From Europe 7 July 2011
  7. ^ Dr. Lara Sristava, European Commission Internet of Things Conference in Budapest, 16 May 2011 The Internet of Things - Back to the Future (Presentation)
  8. ^ P. Magrassi, A. Panarella, N. Deighton, G. Johnson, Computers to Acquire Control of the Physical World, Gartner research report T-14-0301, 28 September 2001
  9. ^ a b Casaleggio Associati The Evolution of Internet of Things 2011
  10. ^ "Gartner Says the Internet of Things Installed Base Will Grow to 26 Billion Units By 2020". Gartner. 2013-12-12. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  11. ^ More Than 30 Billion Devices Will Wirelessly Connect to the Internet of Everything in 2020, ABI Research
  12. ^ "Cisco Connections Counter:" dynamic, online widget displays the number of connections being made at any one moment in time.
  13. ^ Francis daCosta, Intel Technical Books, Rethinking the Internet of Things
  14. ^ Jason Pontin: ETC: Bill Joy's Six Webs. In: MIT Technology Review, 29 September 2005. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  15. ^ Kevin Ashton: That 'Internet of Things' Thing. In: RFID Journal, 22 July 2009. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
  16. ^ a b Charith Perera, Arkady Zaslavsky, Peter Christen, and Dimitrios Georgakopoulos (2013). "Context Aware Computing for The Internet of Things: A Survey". Communications Surveys Tutorials, IEEE. Early Access (n/a): 1–44. doi:10.1109/SURV.2013.042313.00197. 
  17. ^ Dan Brickley et al., c. 2001
  18. ^ Waldner, Jean-Baptiste (2008). Nanocomputers and Swarm Intelligence. London: ISTE. pp. p227–p231. ISBN 1-84704-002-0. 
  19. ^ "EPCIS - EPC Information Services Standard". GS1. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  20. ^ Miles, Stephen B. (2011). RFID Technology and Applications. London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 6–8. ISBN 978-0-521-16961-5. 
  21. ^ Cisco CEO says it will be a 19 trillion dollar market
  22. ^ Jean-Louis Gassée opinion
  23. ^ intel predictive interaction analysis
  24. ^ ATT digital life home automation solution
  25. ^ Integrations with a world of IoT's like Nest, Belkin WeMo and others
  26. ^ API's for joining the ecosystem
  27. ^ his shortcust website
  28. ^ TechCrunch debuts a Siri-Like IoT app
  29. ^ Realtek My Things Application on Google Play
  30. ^ Uckelmann, Dieter; Isenberg, Marc-André; Teucke, Michael; Halfar, Harry; Scholz-Reiter, Bernd (2010). "An integrative approach on Autonomous Control and the Internet of Things". In Ranasinghe, Damith; Sheng, Quan; Zeadally, Sherali. Unique Radio Innovation for the 21st Century: Building Scalable and Global RFID Networks. Berlin, Germany: Springer. pp. 163–181. ISBN 978-3-642-03461-9. Retrieved 28 April 2011. 
  31. ^ "Living with Internet of Things, The Emergence of Embedded Intelligence (CPSCom-11)". Bin Guo. Retrieved 6 September 2011. 
  32. ^ Philippe GAUTIER, « RFID et acquisition de données évènementielles : retours d'expérience chez Bénédicta », pages 94 à 96, Systèmes d'Information et Management - revue trimestrielle N°2 Vol. 12, 2007, ISSN 1260-4984 / ISBN 978-2-7472-1290-8, éditions ESKA. [2]
  33. ^ "3 questions to Philippe GAUTIER, by David Fayon, march 2010"
  34. ^ Gautier, Philippe; Gonzalez, Laurent (2011). L'Internet des Objets... Internet, mais en mieux. foreword by Gérald Santucci (European commission), postword by Daniel Kaplan (FING) and Michel Volle. Paris: AFNOR editions. ISBN 978-2-12-465316-4. 
  35. ^ Waldner, Jean-Baptiste (2007). Nanoinformatique et intelligence ambiante. Inventer l'Ordinateur du XXIeme Siècle. London: Hermes Science. pp. p254. ISBN 2-7462-1516-0. 
  36. ^ Janusz Bucki, "L'organisation et le temps" (in French)
  37. ^ Open Geospatial Consortium, "OGC Abstract Specification"
  38. ^ Mike Botts et al, "OGC Sensor Web Enablement: Overview And High Level Architecture"
  39. ^ Rizzo, Tony (12 March 2013). "ThingWorx Drives M2M and IoT Developer Efficiency with New Platform Release". TMCnet. 
  40. ^ Bowen, Suzanne. "ThingWorx CEO Russell Fadel on M2M and the Connected World". DIDX Audio Podcast Newspaper. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  41. ^ Bowen, Suzanne. "Raco Wireless John Horn on the Connected World and M2M". DIDX Audio Podcast Newspaper. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  42. ^ Fitchard, Kevin (26 February 2013). "T-Mobile’s M2M provider Raco goes international with Sprint, Telefónica deals". GigaOm. 
  43. ^ Bowen, Suzanne. "Interview with nPhase (Qualcomm - Verizon) Steve Pazol on M2M". DIDX Audio Podcast Newspaper. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  44. ^ "What is Carriots". Carriots official site. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  45. ^ Higginbotham, Stacey. "Carriots is building a PaaS for the Internet of Things". GigaOM. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  46. ^ IoT systems IoT systems
  47. ^ "YouTube channel"
  48. ^ Sustainable smart city IoT applications: Heat and electricity management & Eco-conscious cruise control for public transportation [3]
  49. ^ "The IoT Comic Book". Retrieved 14 August 2012. 
  50. ^ Internet of Things in 2020: A Roadmap for the future. EPoSS., 5 September 2008, P. 2.
  51. ^ Verbeek, Peter-Paul. Moralizing Technology: Understanding and Designing the Morality of Things. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011.
  52. ^ Christopher Clearfield Why The FTC Can't Regulate The Internet Of Things, Forbes, 18 September 2013
  53. ^ Christopher Clearfield "Rethinking Security for the Internet of Things" Harvard Business Review Blog, 26 June 2013/
  54. ^ Disruptive Technologies Global Trends 2025. National Intelligence Council (NIC), April 2008, P. 27.
  55. ^ Spencer Ackerman. CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher. Wired, 15 March. 2012.
  56. ^ Roy Thomas Fielding, Architectural Styles and the Design of Network-based Software Architectures (2000), Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy in Information and Computer Science
  57. ^ DIANE CARDWELL, At Newark Airport, the Lights Are On, and They’re Watching You, The New York Times, 2014.02.17
  58. ^ Catherine Crump and Matthew Harwood, The Net Closes Around Us, TomDispatch, 2014.03.25

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]