5 Facts About the Internet of Things That Will Change How You Understand Connectivity
Stop waiting for singularity, the Internet of Things Is already here! Did you know that since 2008 there were already more devices connected to the Internet than there were people on the earth? Here’s 5 more facts about IoT that will change the way you think about connectivity.
We can connect every device on the planet
How will all these devices manage to run on the Internet? Well you might remember a few years ago when the world wide web started running out of IP addresses. That’s because IPv4 is 32 bit, and contains approximately 4,294,967,296 addresses. That seems like enough, right?
Wrong. There were more devices than IPv4 addresses, especially when you consider many devices don’t actually get an IP address from the Internet, but from a DHCP server on their network (EG your home modern/router supplies your laptop with an IP address).
To get around this, the Internet gods gave us IPv6, a whopping 128 bits of Internet Protocol love. So how long until we reach the limit for IPv6? Well the total number of addresses looks like this:
To put it in a frame of reference, if every atom on the earth was an IoT device, you could connect ten Earths on a single Internet.
And don’t forget, NASA is building a solar-system-wide Internet connection.
Connected cars will save us trillions
When we think of connectivity we think of the ability for us, as people, to access, transmit and receive information. Can I access my email? Can I stream Netflix? How long does it take to download this latest security patch?
With the Internet of Things we start thinking about the ways devices will communicate and connect with each other. Driverless cars will be part of the IoT, saving $5.6 trillion worldwide with less accidents, more efficient fuel consumption, and better use of vehicles. How? By utilising cloud technology and big data to communicate with each other.
We know that most cars have computers to control anything from air conditioning to entertainment and parking assist, and it is estimated that there will be 150 million connected cars by 2020. Yet this will make up only a tiny portion of the estimated 50 billion connected IoT devices communicating through the web. Cars will share data on weather, traffic and road conditions, and driverless automobiles will provide a safer service than manually operated cars, according to Big Think.
WiFi could be the solution to aging battery tech
Reports suggest that the wearables market grew 223% in 2015. Around a third of users stop using their devices after six months. Part of this is the upgrade cycle, Fitbit and the like are still relatively new, but the lack of an ‘all week battery’ for devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches is, more than CPU technology, what’s holding wearables back. Sure, it’s great to have a variety of connected devices, less great when we have to plug them all into the wall socket at the end of the day.
There are many options to tackle this problem, anything from ambient energy conversion to 3D printed zinc batteries, and stainless steel batteries that could power a smartwatch for over a week.
But perhaps the most interesting technology in R&D is power over WiFi. Using electromagnetic charge to power devices isn’t anything new, but to use a home WiFi or bluetooth antenna to charge your smartphone? Now that’s pretty cool. The good news is the University of Washington has already shown it works with most of the standard antennae you find in consumer products.
The IoT revolution starts with our connected home
Many of us already have heavily connected homes. The average family might have 3-5 smartphones, a tablet or two, laptops, TVs, games consoles and a PC connected to their router. Smart home technology will not only give more control over these devices, but also thermostats, alarms, lights, windows, blinds, fridge, dishwasher and washing machine. That’s a lot of connectivity.
Not only will homeowners be able to control the house from outside, but sensors will predict and detect behaviours, dimming lights, opening blinds and changing temperature to your needs, all while saving money on the power bill by using off-peak. If you run solar panels or generate your own power in another way, your smart home will sell the excess back into the grid.
We’ll be giving away more personal data than ever before
The Internet of Things is going to be huge, no doubt about it. Combined with big data, deep learning (artificial intelligence) and more speculative technologies like nanomachines, IoT will revolutionise health, transport, logistics, communication, personal tracking and the home.
Paramount to all this is changing how we think about security. In the IoT world, many simple devices could potentially compromise our network. Is a smart home really worth it if someone half the world away can hack in and unlock the front door? What about cars travelling at high speed, or personal trackers sending information to insurance companies?
These are big questions that will fundamentally shape how we think about technology, privacy, security and our connected world. While we’re still a few billion connected devices short of an Internet of Everything, the conversation starts now.