The Internet of Things is All Around Us, Imagine the Possibilities (Part 2)

December 7, 2018

Have you ever wanted to have super powers?  Maybe you would like to see in the dark, use sonar to measure distances with great accuracy, or move things from a distant location.  The internet of things (IoT) will allow all of these to be possible.

We are limited to our five senses (touch, taste, smell, sight, and sound) and there are limits within these senses.  Sight, for instance: we can only see visible light.  We know visible light is only a small portion of the entire electromagnetic spectrum.  Radio waves, infrared waves, ultraviolet are also zooming around us, but we cannot detect them.  However, there are sensors that can.  Similarly, we can make a sound and hear its echo, but we do not have the ability to measure the time that had elapsed between the two events.   Ultrasonic sonars can. They are readily available for under $20.00 and can accurately measure distances within millimeters.

The “actions” we can take are limited by our muscles.  Granted our muscles have amazing coordination, variation, and dexterity; however, they do have their limits in strength and mobility.  In addition, muscles are considered to a “contact” force, which means they must touch to push or pull.  Meaning you cannot move something on the other side of the room without going to the other side of the room.

The actions machines can do are vast and expanding.  They can move, fly, push, pull, heat, cool, etc. Trying to create a list of the all the actions machines can do would be futile.  It must also be mentioned that machines can be made on a macro- or micro- scale depending on the actions that need to be achieved.

The internet of things (IoT) will connect sensors to machines, without human interaction.  Throughout history, humans have developed more accurate and precise sensors (tools of measurement) and actuators (machines).   Although we have become more reliant on computers to process the information, we, humans, have been the one making the decisions and distributing the information to whom we see fit.  All that will change with IoT.

As mentioned in the previous article, “The Internet of Things is All Around Us, Get to Know It”, IoT is an entire technology system.  It is a complex and complete system that is modeled after the human brain and its nervous system.   Both IoT and the human system collect data with the use of sensors, transmit the data to a central processing unit (CPU), the brain or a super-computer; the CPU will then process information and decide which action or actions to initiate.  These actions will then be transmitted to the appropriate muscles or actuators to complete the cycle.  As comprehensive and over-whelming as this may seem, most of the hardware IoT will require is already in existence and built.  In addition, many of the required preliminary codes have been written.  Currently IoT development is focused on reliability, compatibility, and security.

The brains of IoT is in the cloud.  The “cloud” in reality are huge warehouses full of super-computers that can process and store trillions and trillions of bits of data.  Many of these super-computer warehouses already exist throughout the world.  Data can be transmitted to and from the cloud using ethernet cables, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or by other cellular signals.  High-capacity, fiber-optic cables are becoming the norm in many areas.  Cellular towers already line the highways, urban areas, and even most rural areas.  The infrastructure to get the data to and from the brain does exist. However, there are still major obstacles to overcome in getting data collection, data transmission, and data action in a universal coding language and protocols.

Many of these final details will be worked out based on costumers’ demands and desires.  As with most great inventions, need drives innovation.  What do people want things to do? Things will be able to do things and talk to other things, like never before.    It will partially be our naive belief in the limits of what things are capable of doing without human intervention that will be one of the biggest deterrents, more so than what things will actually be able to accomplish!

Self-driving cars are one of the most talked about inventions.  But there are endless other possibilities.  The field of personal health and daily household tasks are also being explored.  Think of a refrigerator that automatically creates a shopping list, sends it to the local store, and then will have it delivered to your house, without you ever knowing you were about out of eggs or milk.  Or health sensors that monitor a variety of physical and biological conditions and assess your status as to inform you before you ever get sick.

Imagine the possibilities….

Andrew J Frisch
Science and Mathematics teacher
Farwell High School

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