Internet of Things: Are Converging Technologies Converging Lives?

The Internet of Things (IOT) is also called machine to machine (M2M) connectivity. It converges several technologies. It connects the physical world and the living world to the internet. This means it connects cars, buildings, machinery, appliances, medical devices, plants, animals and human bodies etc. There are several blessings of connecting things and lives with the internet. The lost things as well as humans can be tracked by using GPS. In high security zones, we may use Near-Field communication (NFC) to track them. We can remotely monitor the health of a person using tiny body sensors. We can secure our homes from a distance. This will bring PERS or personal emergency response service on our finger tips. RDFID tags help us talk to clothes in the shelve of a store. Some say that RDFID is the way to hack the real world . Connected cars are better able to navigate traffic. We can even track our cargo in transit. Technology is making things smart. We are seeing a kind of machine telepathy.

There are key trends or developments that led to the emergence of Internet of Things (IOT). They are miniaturization, affordability and dewireization. The internet of things (IOT) or M2M is becoming personable. We are fast getting used to personal assistants like Alexa, Siri or Ok Google etc. Some of us already have movement triggered lights/ cameras in our homes as well as offices. Some diabetic people among us have an ‘artificial pancreas’ that uses sensors to measure the amount of sugars in their blood and release the required insulin at the right time. The Internet of things is helping people to manage homes and families better as far as saving water, saving electricity or even reducing distracted driving is concerned. Care for the sick and the ailing can become even better with the Internet of Things (IOT).

The Internet of things (IOT) or M2M connectivity is a technology ecosystem. This technology ecosystem has three major steps: Data Acquisition, Data Transport, Data Analysis. Data Acquisition is done through a devise that connects data from various sensors and sends it to the network. Thus, for instance, we may have body sensors that measure our calorie intake or an automotive OBD-II devise that measures the acceleration of a car. To transmit data, these devises are equipped with a radio transmitters which can be cellular or Wi-Fi or short range.

Once the data is collected it sent over a network. This is Data Transport. A network can be either wireless or wired. Internet of Things (IOT) mainly uses wireless network systems that are cellular, Wi-Fi, Satellite for wide rage communication and Zigbee and RFID for short-range communication. Cellular networks are becoming popular in M2M space because they are cost effective.

Data analysis is where the information that is collected from the sensors and devises and is transported over the networks is being analyzed, interpreted, acted upon or given to humans to act upon. This area is becoming popular because of Big Data. Real time analytics is gaining momentum in big business and Governance. Huge data mining and analysis have become affordable. This enables us to find correlations, spot business/ movements of people trends, detect and prevent potential criminal activity as well as optimize work flows of all kinds. To ensure the smooth flow of data there are platforms of communications. Between Data Acquisition and Data Transport, we have Connected Devise Platform (CDP). It is often called middleware and ensures that devises are easily connected to cellular networks and that they can be remotely controlled or managed. Between Data Transport and Data Analysis, we have Application Enablement Platform (AEP). It allows the developers to produce applications that run using data from connected devises.

The hardware of data acquisition is quite challenging. This is because it comes in all colors and sizes. They range from black box type devises that are installed on industrial equipment to OBD-II installed on cars , to elegant body wears, to connectivity modules that get embedded in home appliances, moistures sensors that go on to the soil, RFID readers and so on. As far as data transport is concerned cellular networks play a very important role. The only concern in this areas is said to be its ability handle huge data generated by non-cellular devises. The Data Analysis largely uses cloud which is a software as a service (SaaS). This means the data scientists can directly access data over the laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets etc., from the cloud.

There are lots of things that have happened in the world of internet of things (IOT), still lots has to happen in the areas of integration, standardization and simplification. The most important thing is the question: What is to be done with all the data that is produced by the sensors and devices? The issue is how are we to convert the data into useful knowledge. As we figure that out, the applications of Data Analysis are going to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming future. But there are several anxieties as we go forward. What will become of Humans as we grow with the IOT or M2M ? Will humans become a decision bottle-neck in the Internet of things (IOT)?

Considering the speed at which information flows, will human will be able to handle this information over-load? Therefore, could we ask: are humans a major limiting factor in the development of the Internet of Things? There is no reason for us to be pessimistic. A combination of humans and machine has been a winning team most of the time. Humans have a capacity of adapting to new tools of increasing complexity and to excel and prosper. This ability varies in degree among humans. This ability separates the leaders from the followers. Humans are successful flyborgs and are ready to become effective cyborgs.

Besides, delegating decision making to machines in nothing new to us humans. Humans could still oversee the machines (that apparently outsmart them) performing tasks delegated to them. automation can only grow and make human life more comfortable. The only issue is: Will human will be democratic in the sharing of the fruits of the Internet of Things (IOT) ? will it lock some humans away from the benefits of the Internet of Things (IOT)? Will it put to much power in the hands of a few elites? Perhaps, the question of the relationship Knowledge and power has become radical today? The Internet of Things is the new panopticon. The all-seeing powers of internet of things are producing new forms of bio-knowledge and bio-power. Hence, we are stepping into society of control that is threatening to become a banopticon.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao