Definition of the internet of things

Currently, the internet is a network of computers each with an identifying label consisting of an unique number called an IP address.

The vision of the internet of things is to attach tiny devices to every single object to make it identifiable by its own unique IP address. These devices can then autonomously communicate with one another.

The success of the internet of things relies on overcoming the following technical challenges:

  1. The current manner of using IP addresses must change to a system that provides an IP address to every possible object that may need one in the future.
  2. The power behind the embedded chips on such devices will need to be smaller and more efficient.
  3. The software applications must be developed that can communicate with and manage the stream of data from hundreds of interconnected non-computing devices that comprise a 'smart' system which can adapt and respond to changes.

Example

With the implementation of such devices on every object, a medicine cabinet may be continuously aware of the status of each medicine bottle stored inside the cabinet such as its name, contraindications and expiry date. Also, engineers may be able to query each cable in a suspension bridge to determine the extent of fatigue wear. [1]

View
Technology and society: Virtually insecure

McKinsey Column: Clouds, big data, and smart assets