The internet – it’s not about computers anymore.
What is the IoT?
The Internet of Things (IoT) is “a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.”
Basically, anything that touches the internet without that connection needing to be initiated by a person. You press an Amazon Dash® button to order more laundry detergent? That’s… sorta IoT. Your fridge orders you some milk because it noticed that you were low? That’s definitely IoT. And while milk-buying fridges are new, the IoT has been around for awhile now…
Let’s break down the timeline of the IoT:
- 1999 – The Internet of Things term is coined by Kevin Ashton. Neil Gershenfeld was speaking about similar things from the MIT Media Lab in his book When Things Start to Think.
- 2000 – LG announces it’s first Internet refrigerator plans.
- 2003 – The term is mentioned in mainstream publications like The Guardian, Scientific American and the Boston Globe.
- 2004 – RFID is deployed on a massive scale by the US Department of Defense and Walmart.
- 2005 – The Nabaztag, The little WiFi enabled rabbit was able to alert and speak to you about stock market reports, news headlines, alarm clock, RSS-Feeds, etc as well as connect to each other.
- 2008 – The Internet of Things was “Born” when more “things or objects” were connected to the Internet than people. U.S. National Intelligence Council listed the Internet of Things as one of the 6 “Disruptive Civil Technologies” with potential impacts on US interests out to 2025.
- 2011 – IPV6 public launch. We could assign an IPV6 address to every atom on the surface of the earth, and still have enough addresses left to do another 100+ earths.
- 2011 – Arduino and other hardware platforms mature and make the IoT accessible to DIY’ers taking interest in the topic.
The Internet of Things has been around for almost 20 years now and it’s still picking up steam. But why? What does it DO and why are we making more and more IoT devices?
What does the IoT DO?
In a very real sense, the Internet of Things is giving our world a digital nervous system and the sensory organs to experience and influence events. It’s gathering location data using GPS sensors. It has eyes and ears using cameras and microphones, along with complex sensors that can measure everything from temperature to pressure changes. These inputs are digitized and connected to each other. These networked inputs can then be combined into two-way systems that integrate data, people, processes and even OTHER systems – much like our brains do – giving integrated computer systems the opportunity to make better and more complex decisions.
The Internet of Things and the devices connected through it are creating entirely new types of smart applications and services:
How large IS the IoT ecosystem?
It’s huge. In 2010, the number of devices connected to the Internet was 12.5 billion. The world’s human population, on the other hand was only 6.8 billion. That means that, in 2010 – more than 6 years ago – the number of connected devices per person was greater than more than 1 (1.84 to be exact) for the first time in history.
In 2014, nearly 2 billion connected devices were shipped to stores and end users. That doesn’t even include mobile phones! In 2014, the IoT accounted for more than $180 BILLION in revenue.
By 2020, that number is expected to be well over 8 billion shipped devices. And, even more shocking, less than half of that is expected to be consumer and home goods. Industry, infrastructure, and health are expected to lead the IoT charge. By 2020, revenue from the IoT is expected to exceed $1 TRILLION.
What does the IoT mean for YOU?
You may be asking yourself, “Why do I care about this? I’m a nonprofit. I don’t make refrigerators.” That’s a fair question. For a long time, the IoT has been focused on home automation but that’s not the “killer app” for connected devices. Where the IoT gets really interesting is when we use it to automate and streamline existing processes outside of the home.
You can use IoT to monitor traffic in your parking lot – not just how many spots do you have open still but where they are exactly. A tiny piece of IoT tech can tell you exactly when someone pulls out of or into a parking space, how long they’ve been parked there, and where that space is allowing you to track activity in your parking lot, predict peak times, and help visitors find a place to park immediately instead of aimlessly driving up and down rows hoping to spot a space.
If you’re putting on an event, connected wristbands and name tags make it easy for guests to keep track of where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, purchase concessions or merch, or sign up on a contact list. And it doesn’t have to stop there. IoT devices like light-up wristbands or tokens allow you to create a powerful, interactive experience. Imagine if everyone who attended a fundraising event for starving children was given a token that lit up white but then, as the event went on, some of the tokens turned red as an illustration of how many children die of malnutrition and starvation every minute. How powerful would that experience be?
You can use beacon technology to welcome church visitors back to the building, get them up to speed with news items and announcements relevant to their campus, and serve them a digital copy of this week’s bulletin for them to follow along with during service.
The possibilities really are endless. But here’s the coolest thing for you. Most of these devices use technology and coding languages that we at AM are already super familiar with! We’re ALREADY building systems and processes for our clients using connected devices and integrating IoT technology into their existing sales processes. Do you want to see what IoT can do for YOU? Give us a call. We’re ready to imagine practical applications with world-changing implications. Let’s make it happen!