The Internet of Things will transform our lives

In February 2010, I marvelled at the technology predictions for the coming decades made by Dave Evans (a.k.a. @DaveTheFuturist). Now Cisco Systems’ soothsayer returns with revelations that will inarguably impact our lives courtesy of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Dave Evans, chief futurist, Cisco IBSG

Few would disagree the Internet is the most important invention in human history.

Evans, whose real title is that of chief futurist and chief technologist for Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group, says IoT represents the next evolution of the Internet, taking a huge leap in its ability to gather, analyze, and distribute data that we can turn into information, knowledge, and, ultimately, wisdom.

What is IoT? According to Cisco, IoT is simply the point in time when more things or objects were connected to the Internet than people. Sometime between 2008 and 2009 that’s exactly what happened. What’s exciting about that is, and according to Evans, IoT possesses the power to close the poverty gap and improve distribution of the world’s resources. This short Cisco IBSG video on how IoT will change everything might help clear the fog in that regard.

Based on today’s figures, Cisco IBSG predicts there will be 25 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2015 and 50 billion by 2020. How will connectivity change the world? It’s in the learning curve, or as Evans blogged, it’s how humans learn.

“People process data and turn it into information that can be used in our daily lives. From the results, we gain knowledge and, ultimately, wisdom. With literally billions of sensors connected to the Internet, our ability to gather massive amounts of data has never been greater. With the right filtering and analytics, people across all disciplines will turn this data into new knowledge and wisdom that will change our lives for the better.”

Nothing worth having comes without a fight of course, and technological advancement is no different. There are barriers slowing the progression of IoT including the ongoing transition to IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6), developing power for billions of minute sensors, and a global agreement on standards notably in the areas of security, privacy, architecture, and communications.

But Evans remains optimistic on the whole. After all, humans evolve because they communicate.

We’re now in what he calls the fourth stage of the Internet: The social web. An online world where Facebook, Twitter, Flikr and the like dominate largely because they enable individuals to connect and share any information they so desire.

Interestingly though, it’s all been forged on the back of an Internet that’s largely standardized on IP. IoT represents a technological leap that will “lead to revolutionary applications that have the potential to dramatically improve the way people live, learn, work, and entertain themselves.”

Meanwhile, the next steps include the need for IoT to gain acceptance among the general populace and it must not represent the advancement of technology for technology’s sake, Evans insists. “The (information technology) industry needs to demonstrate value in human terms.”

The effort also requires businesses, governments, standards organizations, and academia to be unified and to work toward a common goal.

That’s a tall order. But as he stated in early 2010, technological progress is like time in that it does not stop.

IoT may indeed represent the next evolution of the Internet but how quickly we get there is up to us, he adds.

Will more mobile device connectivity and online accessibility lead to a transformation in human learning? Please leave a comment below.

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