Defining the Internet of Things

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



The Internet of Things (IoT) is really more of a concept than a tangible device – the IoT comprises billions of palpable objects, but no one will “switch it on” in the same way the ARPANET officially began in October of 1969. Of course, no one has to flip a switch because the IoT is already here (albeit in its infancy). So it’s worth asking – what’ll a mature IoT look like?

In a way, the IoT was inevitable. The Internet is about connection, so as widgets and portable devices – to say nothing of clothing, cars, TVs, and everything we interact with daily – get more sophisticated, they’re fated to join this burgeoning worldwide network. And as technology becomes more automated, it needs more sophisticated methods to communicate. Before long, everything literally communicates with everything, by design and by happenstance.

In its IoT primer, “The Internet of Things: Making sense of the next mega-trend,” Goldman Sachs noted that the IoT is emerging as the third wave in the development of the Internet, with 28 billion “things” connected by 2020.

And the industry largely reflects this linear rate of growth. Arker Trewin, Senior Director of Content and Communications at Aria Systems, mused that “The Internet of Things is big news because it ups the ante: ‘Reach out and touch somebody’ is becoming ‘reach out and touch everything’.”

Golden Sachs further likens the IoT to the industrial revolution, with business amounting to $2 trillion by next year.

But I think it’s more than the number of devices or dollars. The IoT is almost a state of being, a ubiquitous system that most of us won’t even think about, but we’ll interface with it constantly. It’ll become part of our daily routine, molding and shaping itself to accommodate millions of users.

I think Eric Schmidt, Chairman at Google, nailed this philosophical aspect:

“The Internet will disappear. There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with, that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”

That is what the IoT will look like – more than a mere network, it’ll become an extension of us. We’ll be an integral part of the process, but it’ll persist on its own (with some help on the power side).

It’s an exciting time to be in this industry, and I’m thrilled to see the IoT evolve and become an indispensible part of our daily lives.