I had a talk with a journalist some days ago on the Internet of Things and then she followed up with a list of questions I just replied to few minutes ago. I’d like to share them with you and see if you would beg differently.
1. Is the internet of things already here, or are we just at the beginning of a revolution?
The BMW keys and cars communicate one another
The IoT is already here, just look at Cosm (https://cosm.com), or think about the car keys talking to the car systems (BMW cars use the car keys to store info on the car systems for maintenance purposes…). There are hundreds of other examples…
Nevertheless we have just begun. Most of the IoT will be invisible, and we won’t perceive them. So in a sense it won’t be a revolution but a smooth change.
2. Will all devices be connected in future? And will that connectivity be in the conventional way as we perceive it now?
Yes everything will be connected but connectivity will not necessarily means what is normally perceived as connectivity. The example of the BMW key mentioned before is “connectivity” but it does not take place via a network in the usual sense. The key talks to the car via RF when in the vicinity of the car. Then the data stored in the key are brought to the maintenance centre by myself at the periodic check and are transferred to the clerk computer again via RF. From there they are transferred to the BMW world centre via Internet.
We will have no longer a communications infrastructure (with a specific owner) but a communications fabric with a variety of (often unknown) owners.
3. How are devices going to talk to each other in this connected world? Do we already have good, feasible example of the same?
See previous point with the example of the BMW car key. There are of course plenty of other examples. My iPad talks via bluetooth to my PowerBook, they both talk to the AppleTV and this latter talk to the television which in turns talks to the satellite receiver and so on…Information on my clicks is sent to advertisers, when buy a song or a movie my credit card is charged and my bank notified. At the same time that song ends up in my Cloud and all my devices seamlessly synchronise with it so that I can listen to the song from any place on any device. My friends might also be notified if I subscribe to a sharing service, my Facebook space can be updated and so on. It is a communication fabric…
4. For devices to be connected, will all of them have to stick to one standard? Or will there be multiple ecosystems with standards of their own?
Absolutely not. In the examples I gave communications takes place using different channels each one with its own “rules”, some proprietary some standard. Software will play the role of intermediator making sure that different systems may exchange info with one another. Often, it is already like this today, I will access a service (same goes for my car or my camera) and that service will contain what it takes to make communications possible with whatever is required.
5. Won’t connected devices be vulnerable to security threats, considering that most people would not be bothered about securing these devices?
Of course they will, as they are and we are today. And it will be a continuous runs and catch up game, good guys and bad guys. As more and more wealth (biz) moves into the digital space more and more attempts will be made to steal this wealth and more and more countermeasures will be taken: a never ending story. And that will apply to both secured devices and non secured devices. It will simply be easier to crack on not secured ones. But since the secured ones are the ones that will probably contain more “wealth” those will also be the ones subject to more sophisticated attacks.
Taking again the example of the BMW key car communications hackers
are exploiting the possibility to talk to a car to intrude in the communications, capture the security code and steal the car.
6. Do you think the car is next place technology is going to make a big impact in? How?
As you saw from the examples I gave, yes the car is a good “next step”. The car is an ambient that in many ways resemble our home. It has some personal features (usually is being driven by that specific person and it carries those people…). It can learn our habits and leverage on this to be easier on us. It already has plenty of processing power and in many case communications links (both internal and external and it can piggy back on passengers cell phones for extra communications capabilities).
Safety considerations are pushing towards car to car and car to infrastructure (roads) communications (car2X), it is becoming an open platform accepting third party services.