The Epic History of IOT

History of IoT

The Epic History of IOT

Smart TV, smart cars, smart watches, smart refrigerators. You probably own one of these items or have at least heard about them in the market lately. But what exactly are these things and what makes them so “smart”?

These devices are all part of an emerging technology called the Internet of Things, or IoT for short. History of IoT dates back to the 1990’s but has evolved a lot since then thanks to advancements like the cloud. Basically, IoT refers to the connection of physical objects to the Internet and to one another. With the goal to provide users with more convenient and efficient experiences.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is defined as a web of interconnected physical objects that are provided with sensors to read data. As well as have the ability to transfer that data over a network without requiring human interaction. These physical objects can range from computing devices, digital machines, and home appliances. To even organic things like plants, animals and people.

Unlike the traditional Internet that we know of, data input in the IoT is not by people but rather by these physical objects. The “thing”, in the Internet of Things (IoT), can be a car that has built-in sensors to alert the owner of a theft, a thermostat that lets you control temperatures from your phone, a person with a heart monitor implant, a cow with an ID chip implant,  or any other natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the capability to transfer data over the Internet.

The Birth (History of IoT)

If the Internet of Things (IoT) is not necessarily part of the Internet as we know it, then why is it called Internet of Things?

Although the name of the concept wasn’t until 1999, the Internet of Things (IoT) has been in development for decades. Before IoT was called IoT, the idea was often called pervasive computing or embedded internet around the 70’s to 90’s. The first smart appliance, for example, was a Coke machine in the 1980’s made by programmers in university. Its status could be viewed on the Internet, helping them determine when the drinks would be cold.

The term “Internet of Things” was coined by Kevin Ashton in 1999 during his work at Procter & Gamble. Ashton wanted to implement an exciting technology called RFID in factory machines to optimize supply chain management. He titled his presentation “Internet of Things” because the Internet was the hottest new trend in 1999. Kevin did grab the interest of P&G executives and RFID technology got the funding and development since then. However the term Internet of Things (IoT) did not get widespread attention until the next 10 years.

IoT Takes Off

In the history of IoT since its coinage, the term started to gain some popularity in the summer of 2010 after a Google StreetView leakage. After an audit in data, Google found that their StreetView cars accidentally collected personal web activity information. Over every local WiFi network it passed. Google claims that this was not intentional and that the data was machine to machine sent. And also never utilized in their products.

The same year, the Chinese government announced it would make the IoT a major investment to improve the economy. China aims to boost its global position in manufacturing and production, calling for greener, more intelligent and higher-quality manufacturing through the integration of IoT in production processes.

In 2011, Gartner, the leading business advisory firm listed “The Internet of Things” as a new emerging phenomenon. In 2012 the theme of Europe’s biggest Internet conference LeWeb was the “Internet of Things”. Around the same time Forbes also started using IoT as their vocabulary to describe the sensation. In October 2013, the International Data Corporation published a report. Stating that by 2020 the Internet of Things (IoT) would be an $8.9 trillion market.

The term IoT reached mainstream market awareness in January 2014 when Google announced to buy Nest, the smart thermostat for $3.2bn.

Where are we heading with IoT?

Today computers are entirely dependent on human beings for information. Nearly all of the 50 petabytes of data on the Internet were by human being inputs through manual effort. This data was put in by typing, scanning, recording or taking a digital picture.

However, people have limited time, accuracy and attention. This means they are not very good at objectively capturing data in the real world.  If our devices could precisely tell us what we need to know about things using the data they gathered without any effort from us, we would be able to greatly reduce waste, loss and cost. We would know exactly when to repair broken items, replace faulty parts or throw out expired food. Real-world applications of IoT technology are already in many large scale industries such as energy, agriculture and food, construction and building management, transportation and healthcare. When machines can do the computing and estimating tasks for us, it gives us more time to focus our energies on more essential activities.

The Importance of the Cloud

It has only been in recent years that IoT has reached a massive scale. It is no longer just represented by a handful of high-end Internet-connected appliances. Now, it’s common for all types of devices, from thermostats to TVs to cars to house security locks to connect to the Internet. It is even used to monitor carbon-based life like plants and animals.

What has changed since the 2000s to make this all possible? Several key factors include the introduction of extensive data analytics tools and the creation of the Allseen Alliance’s AllJoyn standards which allows for IoT hardware and software from different vendors to interact and communicate with each other.

But perhaps more than anything else, the arrival of cloud computing is the crucial influence in making modern IoT possible. The growth of social networks and search engines provided the novelty to drive the interest in large data. Then, it was the public cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon that offered inexpensive platforms for big data systems.

The cloud provides an always-on place for storing information and computing heavy numbers. Highly available and affordable cloud infrastructure makes it easy to deposit data. As well as compute tasks from IoT devices to cloud servers. In turn, IoT devices don’t have to be built like computer hardware but can be cheaper and leaner because all the heavy lifting is done in the cloud.

Your smart thermostat won’t have much to do (aside from regulating temperature) but upload its status and download your instructions through the cloud network. It doesn’t have to store and compute the data itself.  Provided the device has Internet connectivity, you can monitor and control it through your smartphone solely through the cloud.

Ongoing IoT Challenges

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a whole clockwork ecosystem of a wide variety of components from the smart device and sensors to communication gateways, management platforms and network connections.

For service providers, the manufacturing and administration of such an ecosystem will require additional efforts to maintain and expand.

In fact, exchanging data and extracting valuable information from it are some solutions which may lead to the transformation of this ecosystem into an “IoT Ecosystem Network” (something like the World Wide Web of IoT). With the valuable information mined, IoT will be able to generate new opportunities and business models in the market.

Another challenge for customers and providers alike is limited bandwidth and networking infrastructure. The more smart devices you have on the network, the more traffic your network pipes have to handle.  Service providers are expanding the network infrastructure but it’s a slow and costly process. IoT’s rate of growth is limited by the lack of faster ways of expanding network’s capacity. The challenge is on Internet service providers. Who currently connect phones, PCs, TVs and tablets. Also to come up with new ways to keep up with the IoT ecosystem as it becomes an ever-expanding web of IoT ecosystems.

While the ecosystem is still in infancy, Internet service providers can carefully study the different approaches to IoT. Connectivity opportunities are key tasks of network providers and their basic contribution in the area of IoT solutions. To read more on Internet service providers visit

Last but certainly not least, security and privacy are still huge concerns for IoT.

IoT devices bring about a whole new level of online privacy matters because these devices not only collect personal information like users’ names and addresses, but can also monitor what you like to eat or when you leave the house.

Following the string of exposés about major data breaches and hacked private content. It is reasonable many consumers are wary of placing too much personal data in the cloud. Each new device connected means increased risk of cyber-attacks from hackers who may control devices remotely. IoT providers will need to overcome these security issues before IoT devices reach their full potential.

Overall, the history of IoT is built on networks of data-gathering sensors and cloud computing that revolves around machine-to-machine communications. In the upcoming future, it’s going to make everything in our lives from buildings to streetlights “smart”.


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