The remarkable expansion of telecommunication and the miniaturization of complex electronic instruments are making increasingly possible the integration and interconnection between objects with intelligence.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a theory that is finding increasing application in everyday life. We are already accustomed to smart-TVs, smartphones, smart appliances, all able to connect to the internet and able to take advantage of multiple services, but that supply side is destined to increase dramatically.
It is estimated that by 2020 there will be about 20.8 billion devices able to connect to the Internet of things and their applications will go from home automation to robotics, to industrial and computer monitoring, from telematics to surveillance, passing through the world of sensors and telemetry.
The integration and interconnection of objects on the internet, means that the devices must use an IP address as a unique identifier. However, due to the limited address space of the current IPv4 Protocol (which allows “only” 4.3 billion unique addresses), objects in the IoT will have to use the IPv6 Protocol (with about 340 trillion trillion trillion unique addresses!) to cover all devisces. The future of the IoT depends entirely on the global application in the next few years of this communication protocol. In addition, the huge mountain of data traffic will require both wide bands of transmission and increasingly large data storage systems (management of Big Data), not to mention the security issues that the new types of machines will face.
Appliances in the internet of things will have not only sensory capacities, but also implementing capacity, that is, will be able to detect the environmental information and to decide autonomously what actions to take.
For example, the Intelligent Trading Systems, may be able to monitor the specific buying habits of customers of a mall by drawing information from their mobile phones about which stores are of interest and sending them specific special offers. Additionally, customers could receive directly at home their shopping needs because the smart fridge has transmitted the list of missing or expired foods directly and automatically to the intelligent system of the supermarket. Applications can be applied in almost all fields, from heat detection to electrical systems, from energy management to that of transport systems.
An interesting extension of the concept has also been proposed of the Internet of Living Things that describes a network of biological sensors that could be analyzed on cloud systems to allow users to study DNA or other molecules.
The Macro IoT Systems can be classified into 5 different categories:
- Wearable Intelligence composed of all the wearable portable devices that can connect on the net.
- Home Automation capable of managing consumption, protect the home, and intervene in case of problems.
- Smart Cities, able to manage themselves without human intervention
- Intelligent Environments, understood as intelligent environment control, whether limited to a single room or extended to a true ecosystem.
- Intelligent Enterprise, able to automatically understand client needs, to identify the critical aspects of production in order to optimize systems.
In short, an extremely interesting technological challenge for the future.