Internet of Things [IoT]

We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems—call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge

Does a door lock by one vendor communicate with a light switch by another vendor, and do you want the thermostat to be part of the conversation?

Here’s the scenario: As you approach the front door of your house, a remote control built into your key unlocks the door. The door’s wireless radio messages the network, which prompts the hall light to turn on. The house thermostat, which was lowered after you left for work, returns to a comfort zone. Everything is acting in concert, which brings us to the elegant definition of IoT by Paul Williamson, director of low power wireless for semiconductor maker CSR: “A true Internet of Things is coordination between multiple devices.”


Can you give an example of how IoT sensors work?

Here’s the scene: You are away on vacation and the house is empty. A moisture sensor detects water on the basement floor. That sensor finding is processed by an app, which has received another report from a temperature sensor that detects the flow of water in the main water pipe. (When water flows, it takes away heat and lowers the temperature).

That both sensors are detecting anomalies is cause for concern. A high rate of flowing water may signal a burst pipe, triggering an automated valve shutoff; a slight water flow might be a running toilet, and the water on the basement floor by routine leakage from a heavy rain. In either case, you get a machine-generated message describing the findings.

Here’s how you investigate. Via a mobile app, you get two one-time codes to unlock your front door, one for your neighbour and another for a plumber. When the door is unlocked, a text alert tells you who entered. Having knowledge of the condition of your home may be a big driver of IoT adoption.