Revolutionary winds: Internet of things

Alessandro Boratti
You are driving to work early in the morning, and suddenly your car screen informs you that there has been an accident just on your way; thanks to it, you take another course and you manage to arrive on time.     
Since you are an athletic person, when you are back home you go jogging, wearing your smart bracelet, which will gather all the data of your activity. At the end of the day, you check the you made, watching the graphs, reading the daily report and the given by your smartphone app.        
Have you ever asked yourself how this is possible? Maybe you don’t know it, but these are two results of the implementation of the internet of things in our daily life activities.

Let’s find out what IoT is.                                                                                                                        

Internet of things (IoT) is a network of interconnected devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects and people that are uniquely identified and have the ability to transfer data without the direct interaction of humans.         
The concept behind IoT has developed from the idea that we can make things intelligent and able to communicate with the world thanks to Internet and sensors.         
We can make everything become a “smart device”: goods, objects, machines, appliances, buildings, vehicles, animals, people, plant, and soil.      
First, we have to give to each device the possibility to be identified and located: we achieve this by assigning to it an IP (internet protocol) address (currently, IPV6). Secondly, we need to connect it to the internet and finally, we must apply sensors inside it. With built-in sensors ever smaller and cheaper, smart devices are becoming more intelligent and able to carry out thousands of actions. In this way, phones have turned into smartphones (“mobile computers”), cars can alert you when the tire pressure is low or call the assistance after a crash, watches look after your training and so forth. IoT also to single components of machines: for instance, a car engine having inner sensors that inform you about the “health” of the entire unit. Or rather, the cement used for building a bridge with sensors that monitor the solidity of the structure.     

An example of a daily life IoT: Smart home                                                                   
Smart home apps are amongst the most popular IoT features. They can make our house more efficient and safer. For example, sensors on the door can signal any movements of people and animals inside the house: in this way, for instance, parents can monitor their children even when they are away, just by checking their app on the phone. Moreover, smart devices can alert us if we leave the home without turning off the stove or having turned up the alarm system.                                                
One of the “hottest” smart home app currently on the market is the “Nest thermostat”. This is one of the most representative examples of how IoT can transform simple tools in more intelligent and independent devices. This thermostat is connected with an app to our phone, which receives the temperature and humidity info and controls it remotely. It is intelligent because it automatically gets used to our routine and sets consequently so that after a week it can be fully independent. Thanks to this little device, people can not only feel comfortable in every moment of the day but also save energy and thus, money.
The future of IoT     

Even if IoT is already part of our , there are still some steps before we can say that we are living in a fully smart environment, where almost everything we do is assisted or even processed by devices.    
Hence, what will we be able to do in the foreseen future?  We present you five ideas:
       1. Connect with things. In the future, we will manage to connect with things and learn from them by using our phone. For example, in the supermarket, we will be able to scan the food  in order to see the provenience, the producer, the weight, the calories, the properties; we will have the possibility to set our intolerances and our diet, so that our app will tell us whether to buy that specific food and how much of it.
       2. Monitor things. There are already devices that monitor our activity or our health, for example. However, soon these data will be ; the doctor or even a computer will directly receive and assess them. We will be able to prevent harmful illnesses thanks to sensors that will tell the doctor any issue connected to our health.
       3. Search for things. When most of the objects will become “smart”, we will use reality search engines to ask –“Where are my keys?-. The keys will be tagged locatable objects, in the internet of things. You may be laughing at this, but this is something that is likely to become real in few decades.
       4. Manage things. Future smart cities will manage independently the traffic by knowing the number of vehicles and their destinations. In this way, they will manage the traffic and maybe avoid congestions. Moreover, they will quickly know about accidents or problems, so that they will make it easier for the emergency services to reach the place.
       5. Play with things. With IoT, gaming will be astonishing. We will have the chance to play imposing as the stage, the image captured by our smartphone camera. In addition, we will be able to engage other objects and people present at the same place.                                                                                          

To sum up, IoT is changing our life and we are not even realizing it. This technological, economic and social revolution is probably going to bring more welfare, efficiency, and longevity. Inevitably, a big change such as this will also lead us to concerns about privacy and security. Big and big challenges are waiting for us.

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