The History of the Internet of Things

27 June 2019

We can't imagine our modern life without smartphones, computers and all the gadget's variety. Information technology becomes more important year by year. So the Internet of Things (IoT) will become a common thing as a mobile phone in the next few years. This direction of information technology has become the key during the last decade. So what is the Internet of Things and how can it change our lives? What should we expect from the nearest future?

What is the Internet of Things?

It is a network of devices that communicate with each other, but not with users. British technologist Kevin Ashton introduced the definition of "Internet of Things" in 1999: "comparing to the twentieth century, when all the data were uploaded on a computer by a person using additional devices, the twenty-first century presents us the gadgets that can collect and send data themselves. Taking, for example, a simple smartphone. It can determine where it is, in which direction it moves, how the pressure or time are changing as well as predict the weather. Thanks to mobile applications the smartphone collect all data on their own. This is the essence of the Internet of Things: data is collected, processed and transmitted by devices with no human impact needed.


The History of the Internet of Things

The idea of devices exchanging information without human appeared not long ago. Full automation of data transmission was discussed in the late '70s. At that time this approach was considered as "pervasive computing". It took several decades for technologies’ development to start talking about the Internet of Things.

In the second half of the nineties, Briton Kevin Ashton worked for Procter and Gamble enterprise and was engaged in the production process optimization. He noticed that optimization directly depends on the speed of transmission and processing of data. It can take days for people who collect the data. The use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) has allowed accelerating the process of data transfer directly between devices. He had an idea of things to be collected, processed and transmitted with no human involvement. He decided to call it an "Internet of Things" and became a visionary at that time.

It took almost a decade for the "Internet of Things" term to become commonly used in everyday life. Together with artificial intelligence, IoT has become a cutting edge in the development of information technology. So, in 2008 IPSO Alliance created an alliance of companies that supported the development of the Internet of Things technologies. It has become a signal for large corporations.

In the summer of 2010, it became known that the Google StreetView service, in not only showing panoramic photos but is also able to collect data on the use of Wi-Fi networks. Experts talked about the development of a new protocol for data transmission, which will allow the exchange of data between devices. In the same year, China announced that it plans to include Internet on the list of priority research areas for the next five years. It became clear that not only large corporations but also the government were interested in collecting, processing and storing data. In 2011, Gartner, a market research firm, has included IoT in its list of the most promising emerging technologies.

Internet of Things conquered the world. In 2012, the largest European Internet conference LeWeb was devoted to this topic Forbes, Fast Company and Wired magazines began to use the term actively. The whole world started to discuss the Internet of Things while the companies launched the Internet of Things technology race. In 2013, IDC published a study that predicted the growth of the IoT market by 2020 to $ 8.9 trillion.

In January 2014, Google bought a $ 3.2 million Nest company that developed smart home appliances and building management systems. Since then the world market fully understood that the nearest future belongs to the Internet of Things. In the same year, the most significant American Consumer Electronics Show was held in Las Vegas under the Internet of Things heading. So the era of IoT began.

Why it took the decades for the Internet of Things to become popular?

Technology that would allow household appliances to be connected to the Internet was developed in the late ’90s. Thus, LG introduced the first Internet Digital DIOS refrigerator with such an opportunity. However, the issue of processing and storing data remained open. The solution was cloud services, which began to develop in the same 1999 under the auspices of Amazon. But it took some time its work.

We will talk about cloud technologies in one of the following articles. Most likely there would be no Internet of things without them, so it's hard to say what appeared first. The fact is that at the beginning of the zeros, several technologies arose immediately, which could be developed only thanks to each other.

The main areas of the Internet of Things development

IoT is based on the collection, processing, transmission, and storage of data. The development of M2M technologies (from the machine to the machine) become one of the main directions while the development of protocols for data transmission from one device to another began long before the invention and the definition of its specificity. The main clear point was that data transfer should be energy efficient, safe and accurate.

Industrial Internet of Things is connected with the topic that Ashton was into, that is, optimizing the production process. Unlike the M2M, it also takes into account the human factor but is generally based on the principles of data transfer from machine to machine.
The Internet of Things has also resulted in the development of new concepts, that is how the idea of "Common Internet" or Internet of Everything (IoE) appeared. This technological concept does not include the difference between a person and a device, believing that the first point is to find ways to exchange data. It does not matter whether this operation involves a person or not. The Fourth Industrial Revolution idea with the Internet of Things as an integral element of it is gaining its popularity. According to its supporters, along with the virtual and augmented reality, Big Data, 3D-printing, blockchain, and quantum computing, IoT will completely change not only the production but also the outlook on the world.

Internet of Things is used in virtually all spheres of human life. For example, it is in a high demand in medicine, which led to the creation of a new Internet of Medical Things term, based on Smart Cities. It is also used to develop gadgets for a "smart home".

How is the Internet of Things related to the building management systems?

Kevin Ashton stresses that the Internet of Things is a common thing today, giving the Uber service and other mobile applications as an example. However, one of the main areas of IoT development is the building management system. It is while the developing of the building management systems when the most advanced and promising technologies of the Internet of Things are being tested. These are said to be communication protocols, peripheral calculations, data transfer methods between devices and their interactions within the network.

What should the Internet of Things expect shortly?

The growth rates of IoT are ahead of any expectations. It seems entirely realistic that in the coming years our apartments will be equipped with sensors connected to the Internet while all household appliances can be managed with the help of simple mobile applications. Necessary technologies are made already, so now their optimization remains only.

The Internet of Things solves several basic tasks as how to collect data at a minimum cost of resources; how to quickly process them with a small number of costs; how to safely transfer data and, finally, how to optimize their storage.

An important side of using the Internet of Things is an energy consumption as connecting everything to the Internet requires tremendous resources. That is why special attention is focused on the development of data transmission protocols today. Experts believe that the future belongs to the LPWAN networks, while today it is based on protocols that are similar to ZigBee. We also chose it when developing the Perenio building management system. The ZigBee data transfer protocol does not consume much power, allows devices to work offline, and has a very high Internet speed as for the Internet of Things technology. Read more about its advantages in our article.

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