Friday 22 January 2016
As the Internet of Things (commonly abbreviated to IoT) has now become a part of the mainstream in our society, this blog is dedicated to looking at the less well-known, yet even bigger picture concept – the Internet of Everything (yes, you guessed it – it’s abbreviated to IoE). Many of you are probably asking “What is the Internet of Everything?” so firstly let’s look at how we can define it and then look at how we can derive value from the inevitable masses of data produced as a result of it.
To start with, let’s mention that the Internet of Things and the Internet of Everything are inherently linked – in fact IoT is a part of IoE. The number of devices connected through the internet is growing at an exponential rate and with it has brought further connections to the wider IoE environment, as more and more people are connected through their devices.
The latest estimates put the number of devices connected to the Internet at 10 billion by the end of 2015 with up to or potentially more than 50 billion connected devices by the end of 2020. It’s massive.
The knock-on effect of this has resulted in the production of masses of data that we are struggling to make use of. In 2012, a study concluded that 0.5% of data in existence across the world is analysed -though it is unclear what that figure is now.
What we can take from this is that there’s a huge opportunity for companies to leverage big data technologies to accurately record and track customer behaviour and refine business processes to increase efficiencies and drive business value.
What is the Internet of Everything?
Let’s begin with the Internet of Things. For those who don’t know, here is a short, snappy definition: a network of interconnected devices (things) able to communicate with and pass information to each other through the internet.
Where IoT focuses solely on the network of devices connected with each other, the Internet of Everything (IoE) is bigger picture. Instead it refers to everything and anything that is connected through the internet. For example, this could be people, things, processes and data.
A report looking at the Internet of Everything explains that by definition, there are three different types of connections within the Internet of Everything – machine-to-machine (M2M), person-to-machine (P2M) and person-to-person (P2P). To perform measurements “machines” or “devices” are typically fitted with a sensor (to perform some sort of measurement, i.e. capture temperate data, monitor moving quantities of items, etc.) and an RFID tag (to give the device a unique identification).
Applications of these connection types, whilst being relatively new, are still very much integrated as part of our society, so much so that often we don’t even notice. An example of one of the more well-known M2M connections is using devices to provide measurements of inventory level using in-built sensors and automating the transfer of this information to software housed on another device.
A great use-case of P2M is within healthcare. Historically patients have had to arrange a meeting with their local GP, with the potential to be referred elsewhere (hospital, specialist, etc.). This is regarded as a wasteful process and as such needs to be replaced. For example, paper-based records have now begun their transition to a digital format. The benefits of this will be that patients will be able to contribute to their own medical record from the comfort of their own homes without needing to use up their doctor’s time.
Following on from the previous example, the doctor, able to access this information (still P2M) can then provide treatment to their patient (P2P) without even needing to see them. Obviously, the idea is that we will still be able to see our GP! The idea is it will reduce the demand placed upon them, surely only benefitting the quality of healthcare provided by them.
There are so many more examples that I could list in this blog post though I fear it would be more like a novel if I did – perhaps that could be one for another time! Hopefully, it has provided a decent if not basic insight into the world that is the Internet of Everything.