|By Drew Hendricks||
|January 8, 2014 10:20 AM EST||
Over the course of the past decade, there's been a lot of hype pertaining to the_ Internet of Things (IoT)_ and how China leads the U.S. in this technology -- yet many who are active on the Internet are still unaware of its existence.
In its simplest form, IoT is an evolving wireless network of objects and devices that will eventually all be connected with each other. Using RFID, Bluetooth, GPS and other emerging semantic technology, and working in tandem with cloud computing, Web portals and back-end systems, in essence our "things" will be be able to "talk" with each other.
2014 may be the year
The logistics of making inanimate objects digital with the capability of being operated remotely is going to take a lot work on a lot of products, from cars to household appliances to heating and cooling units to myriad others.
Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's chief technology and strategy officer, believes 2014 will be the year of "things." At the Silicon Valley Summit, she indicated her company was predicting an aggressive adoption curve for making everything digital.
"In 1984, there were 1,000 connected devices," she said. "That number rose up to reach a million devices in 1992, and reached a billion devices in 2008. Our estimates say... that we will have roughly 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020. That number is going to really accelerate over the next several years. Despite the fact, we estimate that only one percent of things that could have an IP address do have an IP address today, so we like to say that 99 percent of the world is still asleep."
Anthropomorphized kitchen appliances
Like something out the TV cartoon series "The Jetsons," it's whimsical to imagine a kitchen coming alive with automated beeps similar to our smartphones. Perhaps the sensor on our food processor will alert our oven that ingredients for a pie are ready to be heated at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Or our coffee maker will call the office and ask our fellow employees how they like their "Morning Joe?" This and more will become part and parcel of how we can remotely engage with our devices.
Smart, connected appliances
Godedeker's recent blog post, "6 Trends in Appliance Design You Must Consider Before Buying Your Next Kitchen Appliance," notes that "whether it is a wall oven from GE that can be controlled by your smartphone or a Samsung refrigerator with a wifi enabled LCD tablet built in, the current and future generation of appliances will be smarter and able to connect and communicate with us."
Beyond our major appliances, GE has also partnered with crowdsourcing sites such as Qwirky to create inventions. This initiative will also address older appliances, devising a means for them to work smarter with our Android and iOS devices.
Looking ahead, developers that have been creating various apps for our smartphones will now be tasked with coming up with innovative solutions for the IoT. It's all come down to theeconomies of scale where it becomes less and less expensive for this technology to leap forward.
"A lot of these wireless technologies for connecting things have gotten cheap, reliable and low power enough," says Alex Hawkinson, CEO of Smartthings. "Now, the cost of adding connectivity [to an everyday device] is less than $5, and [these processors and radios] can work on batteries for more than a year."
In 2014, there will be myriad options for joining the Internet of Things revolution. However, what remains to be seen is how many of us are ready to take the plunge.
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