Future computing: The Internet of Things

Doug Spindler

Some thirty years ago, the personal computer revolution began — and no other technology has evolved more quickly.

Now there a new revolution, often referred to as the Internet of Things. Here’s what you need to know about it.

The term Internet of Things (IoT) made little sense to me when I first heard it. I thought: “Oh no! Not another meaningless tech-industry marketing term — like Web 2.0.” But then I visited my pool-supply store and the sales person asked me whether I wanted to connect my pool pump to the Internet.

As youmight expect, my first reaction was: “Why?” I left the store a bit bewildered and spent the next several months looking into the topic of new Internet-connected devices. What I’ve discovered took me by surprise — and I teach computer technology.

The Internet of Things extends far beyond just attaching your thermostat (or pool pump) to the Internet. In the broader sense, IoT could encompass any instance in which objects or organisms (including people) are fitted with sensors that collect and transfer data over a computer network. No human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction is required.

IoT isn’t driven simply by convenience; the ultimate goal is collecting and processing large amounts of data in real time. More than fifty years of technology discovery and development has brought us to this point.

For example, with nanotechnology (more info), we can now build data-collecting sensors that measure in billionths of an inch. These tiny devices are described as nanoelectromechanical systems — or the somewhat larger microelectromechanical systems (MEMS; more info).

Sensirion SHT2x sensor

Figure 1. A tiny MEMS humidity and temperature sensor from Sensirion – Source: Bing Images/Envirotech

Building a ubiquitous data-collection system



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Doug Spindler

About Doug Spindler

Doug Spindler is a technology consultant, digital forensic investigator and college professor. He holds numerous certifications and industry awards, including MCT, MCSE, and Microsoft MVP, and he founded Pacific IT Professionals an independent association for IT Professionals with over 4,000 members.