The History of the Internet of Things at a Glance

This Story Started Way Back

Say the Internet of Things and most of us conjure up an image - a network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and so on collecting and exchanging data amongst themselves and other systems.

Kevin Ashton, the originator of the term in 1999, was thinking of a global network of devices talking to each other using RFID. His work built on ideas that had first been presented in 1991. In fact Ubiquitous Computing as it was referred to, had a working example. Almost a decade earlier the world’s first internet connected device worked successfully. The rock star? A modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon - it reported its inventory state and count on the internet.

From then to now, come the close of this decade, and the estimated number of connected devices will stand at 26 billion. While the numbers are impressive, we feel it is nowhere near its absolute potential. Why? A look into the basics gives us the answers.

The Perfect Confluence

These are the factors that are crucial to the coming explosion of IoT.

The first is connectivity – when devices are looking to get onto the internet, the current protocol (IPv4) limits the actual number of unique identifiers at 4.3 billion unique addresses. The proposed adoption of the IPv6 protocol will bypass this limitation. That sets the platform in terms of scale.

A lot of major and minor factors in technology have created the perfect conditions for the bloom. The advances that have been made in the field of embedded systems and micro-electromechanical systems allows for a geometric rate of progression as far as device adoption is concerned. Communications between devices and entire systems have become simpler – better APIs and development systems have allowed for the developer community to devise novel ways to process information.

The hobbyist and the industrial giants have been working in sync. Arduino, Rasperry Pi and others of the ilk have captured the interest of individuals, allowing for a renaissance type learning period in this field. The open source community has pitched in and contributed countless man-hours in creating seamless environments, and the benefits are visible to even the uninitiated.

We believe the best is yet to come. As a country the fruits of a three decade long cycle is ours for the picking – the only question that remains: Will we tame this wave and ride it into a period of progress for one and all?