What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is set to change how you park your car, empty your bins and control your lighting and central heating at home - read on to find out how...
The Internet of Things or IoT as it is also known refers to the idea that other objects and devices that are not computers can connect to the internet.
For example, the concept of smart home is considered the Internet of Things. This is where your thermostats, locks, light bulbs and other household devices can connect to the web and can be controlled via your smartphone or tablet.
It extends way beyond the home too, making everyday tasks like parking your car and changing your bins smarter too.
How the Internet of Things (IoT) can make home life easier
By connecting appliances and devices inside your home you can control them from anywhere using your phone:
- Turn on the heating while walking back from the shops
- Dim the lights without leaving the sofa
- Monitor your empty house while on holiday
- Check on the baby sleeping upstairs
Why is everyone talking about the Internet of Things?
Essentially because this year it is expected to become mainstream. The IoT has been around for a few years in tech circles, but in 2015 it will enter the average living room.
How big is the IoT? There are already 40 million devices connected to the IoT in the UK alone, according to Ofcom.
The biggest news at CES 2015
The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is the world's biggest tech show. Every year is dominated by one big technology. In the past these have included the DVD, Full HDTV, 4K Ultra HD and wearable tech. This year it was all about the Internet of Things.
3 reasons the Internet of Things is here to stay
1) Different devices talk to each other
Smart devices have until recently been compatible only with their own sensors and apps. For example your smart light bulbs wouldn't be compatible with your smart security camera.
Now we are seeing more and more devices and sensors from different manufacturers becoming compatible with each other. Some examples:
SmartThings: Sensors and hubs work with Sonos speakers, Philips Hue light bulbs, Dropcam security cameras and more.
Nest: This learning thermostat is compatible with Philips Hue light bulbs, Dropcam cameras and the Jawbone fitness band, among others.
2) Samsung is committed to IoT
90% of Samsung devices will be compatible with the IoT by 2017. It is spending 100 million dollars to make sure its devices are open - meaning they are compatible with those systems made by other firms.
Samsung chief executive BK Yoon told CES: 'We can deliver the benefits of IoT only if all sensors can talk to each other.'
3) Ofcom is developing a secure infrastructure
The communications regulator is creating rules, regulations and structure for the IoT in the UK. It will work to:
- Ensure there's enough wireless spectrum for IoT devices to work
- Explore solutions to data privacy issues
- Build the IoT into its existing security and resilience work with UK communications networks
What about the future? IoT in 2020
Some 50 billion smart devices could be connected to the Internet of Things by 2020. Its reach extends far beyond the smart home, too:
Bin collections: A smart bin could let the council know when it's full and needs to be collected, rather than being routinely emptied each week.
Smart parking: Be directed to parking via your smartphone, and then park and pay for parking on the app. Sensors recognise how long you have been parked and whether there are available spaces.
Acting Ofcom chief executive Steve Unger said the IoT could 'change the way we live our lives'.
From the way we travel to simplifying bin collections, he could very well be right.