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The Internet of Things

Some internet experts are claiming that 2013 will be the year of the Internet of Things (IoT). According to this view, IoT is already here but it is just not yet widely known and evenly distributed, and 2013 will see a major breakthrough that will bring IoT to the wider market.

In most organizations, information – proprietary as well as from third parties – travels along familiar routes. Such information is lodged in databases, analyzed in reports and then rises up the management chain. But the predictable pathways of information are changing: the physical world itself is becoming a type of information system. In what is called the Internet of Things, sensors and actuators embedded in physical object – from roadways to pacemakers – are linked through wired and wireless networks, often using the same Internet Protocol (IP) that connects the Internet. These networks churn out huge volumes of data that flow to computers for analysis. When objects can both sense the environment and communicate, they become tools for understanding complexity and responding to it swiftly.

According to McKinsey, a management consultancy firm, what is revolutionary in all this is that these physical information systems are now beginning to be deployed, and some of them even work largely without human intervention. Pill-shaped micro-cameras already traverse the human digestive tract and send back thousands of images to pinpoint sources of illness. Precision farming equipment with wireless links to data collected from remote satellites and ground sensors can take into account crop conditions and adjust the way each individual part of a field is farmed – for instance, by spreading extra fertilizer on areas that need more nutrients. Billboards in Japan peer back at passersby, assessing how they fit consumer profiles, and instantly change displayed messages based on those assessments.

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