The Internet of Things, commonly referred to as IoT, seems to be playing on the minds of perhaps every technocrat and business strategist across industries. The ability to connect millions of devices and sensors, and get meaningful and actionable insights from the data generated by these, seeks to fundamentally alter the way a business is run or operations conducted. Till recently, the data gathering and processing was envisaged to be centralized and the "smartness" would reside in a central system/platform.
Advances in edge computing and sensor technologies are making it increasingly possible to place the "smartness" in the devices themselves; thus making them "intelligent" in their own accord. And when these smart devices and sensors connect to each other and make decisions based on ambient conditions, we see an ecosystem where IoT interfaces with Artificial Intelligence (decision making capability in these devices and sensors) to create something that is termed the Intelligence of Things, coincidentally having the same acronym as the Internet of Things.
How about precision agriculture as an example? The myriad of sensors that intelligently measure soil conditions, weather patterns, moisture content, seed quality can point to specific parts of the plot requiring different watering levels or different seed spacing. And all this to increase (read, maximize) yield and productivity of the agricultural land. Precision agriculture is now being increasingly used in different parts of the world, typically supported by industry, to help farmers and agriculturists get the most of their crop yield.
Another example can be found in smart homes. Sensors embedded within walls to detect moisture content are able to detect increase in moisture that presumptuously may point to a leakage. And the intelligence of the sensors kicks in by not only triggering an alert but also getting in touch with the insurance agency and repair services, and even formulating the cost/contribution for the repairs. A similar analogy can be found in connected cars, where onboard sensors detect a gas leak or accident, and connect with insurance and repair personnel. These may sound a little off the beat for now, but technology is evolving fast and it may not be too far fetched when these examples become reality.
As Steve Jobs opined: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” He had the vision and ability to think far and perhaps, that's where his contribution to design application and humanistic thinking made such an impressive impact on the evolution of technology. Smartness of devices around us will make our engagement with our surroundings more intuitive.
The industry players need to cooperatively work on creating the right platform for the uptake of the Internet of Things, be it privacy, interoperability, security, platform, etc. Case in point, the Internet. Imagine if there were thousands of protocols for the Internet, with each player using their own protocol. Things may not have been the same as they are today. It is hoped the Internet of Things will eventually evolve into a standardized (if not complete) ecosystem and all players mutually benefit from a standardized architecture, supported by standardized protocols. The combination of IoT and AI to create the Intelligence of Things is a logical next step to the proliferation of the Internet of Things and the enhanced smartification of devices and sensors should enable industries and people alike to benefit.