I've been hearing the term "The Internet of Things" for the last few months but it hasn't really registered with me and I didn't take the time to find out whether it was something of interest or not.

A particular email from a Patent Research & Development company that I have used in the past (www.innovate-design.co.uk) caught my attention last week and caused me to do some more investigation about what exactly "The Internet of Things" is.

In a nutshell the IoT (get used to the acronym – you'll be seeing it more and more in the future!) refers to a network of any natural or manmade objects that can be assigned to an IP address (a bit like your PC/laptop has an IP address) which then provides the ability to transfer data to other devices with IP addresses.

An example may help to explain this more clearly. Consider a humble pillbox which doubles as a device with an IP address and which can tell you not only when you are running low on tablets but also place an automatic repeat prescription with your doctors' surgery.

Although in the early stages of development these devices could revolutionise the way we live in the future.

With thanks to Innovate Product Design, here are a few applications that they predict may be on the IoT in future :-

  • In your home – monitoring any appliances or objects to alert you if they need repairing, replacing or any other data you might find useful for home security etc.
  • For people & animals – monitoring in real time your baby's temperature, breathing, making sure that an elderly person takes a pill on time etc
  • In cities – smart lighting that adjusts to seasons and time changes resulting in reductions in cost and energy usage.
  • In industry – for quality control and employee management  – for example sensors installed inside equipment that will monitor if any parts have exceeded their designed thresholds and will automatically send reports to the owners and/or maintenance team.
  • For the environment – to monitor climate change, flooding, pollution etc

The applications are endless….

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