Next time you're home, take a look around and count how many devices you have that can connect to your home wifi. Almost certainly there are phones, laptops, tablets, and probably a desktop computer as well. But look harder. Perhaps a set-top box? A games console? Some people also have wi-fi connected TVs, cameras, thermostats, and even light bulbs.
These devices are known as connected devices and they are growing at an ever increasing rate. The industry predicts that, by 2020, possibly 50 billion devices will be connected, which is 10 times the number of all internet connected devices today.
Collectively these connected devices are forming the Internet of Things – the internet of the future that smartly integrates billions of devices and processes across industries and global locations. It's a paradigm that's already started and is evolving to change business models, consumer experiences, and everyday life.
The Internet of Things today
One commonly used example of the Internet of Things is the smart home. When all of your home appliances are connected, they can be managed with a common application. Hence today you can already find homes with blinds that open and close, lights that turn on and off, thermostats that adjust the temperature, and security systems that engage, all controlled through an app that runs on your smartphone. Here the Internet of Things is customizing energy plans, reducing waste, and providing safety assurance.
Defining the Internet of Things
But the Internet of Things is about so much more than turning on light bulbs from your phone. In the IBM Redbooks Point of View The Interconnecting of Everything, a quartlet of IBM Distingiushed Engineers made up of Brad Brech, James Jamison, Ling Shao, and Glenn Wightwick explain how this paradigm will lead to the next giant leap in the internet evolution.
They define how the Internet of Things is made up of three dimensions: components, building blocks, and system-of-systems. They go on to describe the business challenges of combining connected devices into the Internet of Things. Considerations such as scalability, availability, manageability, managing data, security, and usability.
Connected devices are building a Smarter Planet
For IBM the Internet of Things is a technology revolution that supports the concepts of a Smarter Planet. The Internet of Things can improve almost all industries and solution capabilities. It will be key in the areas of waste management, urban planning, sustainable urban environment, continuous care, emergency response, intelligent shopping, smart product management, smart meters, home automation and smart events. IBM is already investigating the links between the Internet of Things and Smarter Commerce, Smarter Analytics, Smarter Computing, and Mobile First.
Embracing the future
We've already come a long way. Just 10 years ago, there was on average one connected device for every 12 people in the world. Today, the 2 billion people using the internet average 6 connected devices per person. As that number continues to grow, and devices get smarter, the power of integrating connected devices becomes ever stronger. The IBM Redbooks Point of View The Interconnecting of Everything contains some great links and information to show you how.
This post originally appeared on the Smarter Computing Blog.