It has been several years since Kevin Ashton introduced the concept of the Internet of Things, based on RFID and sensor technology that enable computers to observe, identify and understand the world—without the limitations of human-entered data. That early concept of enabling objects to make decisions and function without human interaction has given rise to an incredible wave of new ideas, technologies and applications that could not have been conceptualized just a few years ago. And now the IoT is ubiquitous, a buzzword representing enormous change that can affect nearly every aspect of our life.
As new IoT applications begin to take shape, we can start to envision the future. When Mr. Ashton dreamed up the IoT, one has to wonder whether he had considered smart clothing – a dress, for example, that changes colors in response to sensors that interpret human emotions by reading brainwaves. Or wearable devices that can monitor our heart rate or other physiological factors for health safety purposes. We’ll also not only have smart appliances, but completely smart homes that will monitor energy usage and keep things running at optimal efficiency. We’ll have smart cars that can run without human drivers and intelligent factories that will operate with fewer workers.
The IoT is truly a revolution and we humans will need time to adapt to this rapidly evolving world. So to start the process, let’s get our buzzwords and catchphrases straight:
Industry 4.0 is the European movement that originated in Germany (born under the name of Industrie 4.0) and has been described as the Internet of Things of Industry. Industry 4.0 facilitates the vision of the Smart Factory where cyber-physical systems (CPS) monitor physical processes, create a virtual copy of the physical world and make decentralized decisions. Via the IoT, cyber-physical systems communicate and cooperate with each other and humans in real time. In the U.S., terms like “connected systems” or “connected devices” are popularly used to describe these capabilities. Cyber-physical systems are engineered systems that are built from, and depend upon, the seamless integration of computational algorithms and physical components. According to the US National Science Foundation, advances in CPS are expected to enable capability, adaptability, scalability, resiliency, safety, security, and usability that will far exceed the simple embedded systems of today.
The Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) is using the terms Industrial Internet and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to express their mission to accelerate the development, adoption and widespread use of interconnected machines and devices, intelligent analytics, and people at work.
At the end of the day, pick your buzzword or catchphrase and begin to prepare and re-educate yourself for adapting to a whole new connected world. www.wibu.com is a good place to start.