“The Internet of Things”

Kevin Ashton’s original definition made in 2009, although the term ‘Internet of Things’ started life in 1999:

“Today computers—and, therefore, the Internet—are almost wholly dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the roughly 50 petabytes (a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes) of data available on the Internet were first captured and created by human beings—by typing, pressing a record button, taking a digital picture or scanning a bar code. Conventional diagrams of the Internet … leave out the most numerous and important routers of all – people. The problem is, people have limited time, attention and accuracy—all of which means they are not very good at capturing data about things in the real world. And that’s a big deal. We’re physical, and so is our environment … You can’t eat bits, burn them to stay warm or put them in your gas tank. Ideas and information are important, but things matter much more. Yet today’s information technology is so dependent on data originated by people that our computers know more about ideas than things. If we had computers that knew everything there was to know about things—using data they gathered without any help from us—we would be able to track and count everything, and greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know when things needed replacing, repairing or recalling, and whether they were fresh or past their best. The Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did.

Maybe even more so.”

I was reminded about this whilst watching the food wastage reports on television recently. With all the data that could now be available from sensors and RFID tags, the idea of wasting ‘half’ of such valuable produce is ridiculous.

From the moment a seed is planted to the moment it’s remains go back in the ground, data about ‘it’ and the environment it is in could be used to make the process a whole lot more efficient.

The advancement of what has now been dubbed the ‘thingternet’, has been hampered by 3 things that have now, pretty much,  been sorted.

  • Data – Cloud data storage is now far more accessible
  • IP addresses – With the introduction of IPV6 and 128 bit addresses, there should now be ‘ample’ 
  • Bandwidth – Networks have drastically increased their capacity, 4G


Crowd sourced data, together with data from environmental sensors (noise, traffic, environment, crowds, temperature, etc) could be used to assist with urban planning; smart waste management systems could be optimised to increase recycling and make collection and disposal more efficient.

Quality of life could also be improved, by giving autonomy to the elderly through environmental, body and geolocation sensors. If someone suffered a fall, missed some medication or was absent, a friend or relative could be notified.

I know that  privacy will be a massive concern, as the placement of tags and sensors becomes more prevalent.

Will the benefits of all this data from ‘stuff’ outweigh our paranoia?

It appears the technology is here, do you want to change the world?   …again.

internet of things, robot, butterfly

Please comment below.

Author: Pan Aveyard

With a background in IT, training and more recently Social Media Analysis, he has over 20 years’ experience helping people understand and then utilise ‘new stuff’. Passionate about New Media and actively engaged across many platforms, he uses this knowledge and insight to act as your guide to building an active and profitable online community.

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  1. Thought provoking and raises a lot of excellent points. Will privacy prevent us moving forward?

  2. Interesting stuff! The privacy issues will continually be highlighted and debated (I hope) and that is as it should be? New technology always has good and bad sides but we should embrace the positives? I hope I am not too naive in thinking we can use it for the good of us all? And as long as we never forget the value of personal support and interactions. I would hate to think that I may become complacent and not go and check on my 90yr old neighbour in the snow?

  3. Thanks for your comment Alison.
    ‘New technology always has good and bad sides but we should embrace the positives’ – Well said! ..and identify the negatives and eliminate them as soon as possible.
    Whether you check on your neighbour or not, you would be alerted to any medical issues or temperature changes. Not that this will in any way compare with a reassuring chat and a cup of tea 😉

  4. Privacy won’t prevent us forward, but not addressing privacy now, will prevent privacy from being built in.

  5. Really thought provoking. Through my own recent ignorance of the value of Social media, I too was fearful of technology allowing others to freely intrude in my privacy. However, it was only by being educated on the facts that my ideas were completely turned around. I think there are many of us that are fearful of certain elements of technology, but perhaps this is through ignorance. I agree, everything has a positive and a negative side, but those can only be identified through use and then reviewing the outcomes. Indeed, the technology to assist older people living independently in their own homes is already out there. We must not forget though, that we are social beings with basic needs which perhaps, for the moment anyway, only humans can provide. Androids?

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