Internet of Things

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The Internet of Things (IoT, sometimes Internet of Everything) is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to exchange data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices based on the infrastructure of International Telecommunication Union‘s Global Standards Initiative.[1] The Internet of Things allows objects to be sensed and controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure,[2] creating opportunities for more direct integration between the physical world and computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit.[3][4][5][6][7] Each thing is uniquely identifiable through its embedded computing system but is able to interoperate within the existing Internet infrastructure. Experts estimate that the IoT will consist of almost 50 billion objects by 2020.[8]

The term “Internet of Things” was coined by British entrepreneur Kevin Ashton in 1999.[9] Typically, IoT is expected to offer advanced connectivity of devices, systems, and services that goes beyond machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and covers a variety of protocols, domains, and applications.[10] The interconnection of these embedded devices (including smart objects), is expected to usher in automation in nearly all fields, while also enabling advanced applications like a Smart Grid,[11] and expanding to the areas such as Smart city.[12][13]

Things, in the IoT, can refer to a wide variety of devices such as heart monitoring implants, biochip transponders on farm animals, electric clams in coastal waters,[14]automobiles with built-in sensors, or field operation devices that assist fire-fighters in search and rescue.[15] These devices collect useful data with the help of various existing technologies and then autonomously flow the data between other devices.[16] Current market examples include smart thermostat systems and washer/dryers that utilize Wi-Fi for remote monitoring.

Besides the plethora of new application areas for Internet connected automation to expand into, IoT is also expected to generate large amounts of data from diverse locations that is aggregated very quickly, thereby increasing the need to better index, store and process such data.[17][18]

Early history[edit]

As of 2014, the vision of the Internet of Things has evolved due to a convergence of multiple technologies, ranging from wireless communication to the Internet and fromembedded systems to micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS).[15] This means that the traditional fields of embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, control systems,automation (including home and building automation), and others all contribute to enabling the Internet of Things (IoT).

The concept of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first internet-connected appliance,[19] able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold.[20] Mark Weiser‘s seminal 1991 paper on ubiquitous computing, “The Computer of the 21st Century”, as well as academic venues such as UbiComp and PerCom produced the contemporary vision of IoT.[16][21] In 1994 Reza Raji described the concept in IEEE Spectrum as “[moving] small packets of data to a large set of nodes, so as to integrate and automate everything from home appliances to entire factories”.[22] Between 1993 and 1996 several companies proposed solutions like Microsoft‘s at Work or Novell‘s NEST. However, only in 1999 did the field start gathering momentum. Bill Joy envisioned Device to Device (D2D) communication as part of his “Six Webs” framework, presented at the World Economic Forum at Davos in 1999.[23]

The concept of the Internet of Things first became popular in 1999, through the Auto-ID Center at MIT and related market-analysis publications.[24] Radio-frequency identification (RFID) was seen[by whom?] as a prerequisite for the Internet of Things in the early days[when?]. If all objects and people in daily life were equipped with identifiers, computers could manage and inventory them.[25][26] Besides using RFID, the tagging of things may be achieved through such technologies as near field communication,barcodes, QR codes and digital watermarking.[27][28]

In its original interpretation,[when?] one of the first consequences of implementing the Internet of Things by equipping all objects in the world with minuscule identifying devices or machine-readable identifiers would be to transform daily life.[29][30] For instance, instant and ceaseless inventory control would become ubiquitous.[30] A person’s ability to interact with objects could be altered remotely based on immediate or present needs, in accordance with existing end-user agreements.[25] For example, such technology could grant motion-picture publishers much more control over end-user private devices by enforcing remotely copyright restrictions and digital restrictions management, so the ability of a customer who bought a Blu-ray disc to watch the movie becomes dependent on so-called “copyright holder’s” decision, similar to Circuit City’s failed DIVX.


According to Gartner, Inc. (a technology research and advisory corporation), there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things by 2020.[31] ABI Researchestimates that more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things by 2020.[32] As per a recent survey and study done by Pew Research Internet Project, a large majority of the technology experts and engaged Internet users who responded—83 percent—agreed with the notion that the Internet/Cloud of Things, embedded and wearable computing (and the corresponding dynamic systems [33]) will have widespread and beneficial effects by 2025.[34] It is, as such, clear that the IoT will consist of a very large number of devices being connected to the Internet.[35] In an active move to accommodate new and emerging technological innovation, the UK Government, in their 2015 budget, allocated £40,000,000 towards research into the Internet of Things. The Chancellor, Rt Hon George Osborne, posited that the Internet of Things is the next stage of the information revolution and referenced the inter-connectivity of everything from urban transport to medical devices to household appliances.[36]

Integration with the Internet implies that devices will utilize an IP address as a unique identifier. However, due to the limited address space of IPv4 (which allows for 4.3 billion unique addresses), objects in the IoT will have to use IPv6 to accommodate the extremely large address space required. [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] Objects in the IoT will not only be devices with sensory capabilities, but also provide actuation capabilities (e.g., bulbs or locks controlled over the Internet).[42] To a large extent, the future of the Internet of Things will not be possible without the support of IPv6; and consequently the global adoption of IPv6 in the coming years will be critical for the successful development of the IoT in the future. [38] [39] [40] [41]

The ability to network embedded devices with limited CPU, memory and power resources means that IoT finds applications in nearly every field.[43] Such systems could be in charge of collecting information in settings ranging from natural ecosystems to buildings and factories,[42] thereby finding applications in fields of environmental sensing andurban planning.[44]
On the other hand, IoT systems could also be responsible for performing actions, not just sensing things. Intelligent shopping systems, for example, could monitor specific users’ purchasing habits in a store by tracking their specific mobile phones. These users could then be provided with special offers on their favorite products, or even location of items that they need, which their fridge has automatically conveyed to the phone.[45][46] Additional examples of sensing and actuating are reflected in applications that deal with heat, electricity and energy management, as well as cruise-assisting transportation systems.[47] Another excellent application that the Internet of Things brings to the picture is home security solutions. Home automation is also a major step forward when it comes to applying IoT. All these advances add to the numerous list of IoT applications. Now with IoT, you can control the electrical devices installed in your house while you are sorting out your files in office. Your water will be warm as soon as you get up in the morning for the shower. All credit goes to smart devices which make up the smart home. Everything connected with the help of Internet.[48]

However, the application of the IoT is not only restricted to these areas. Other specialized use cases of the IoT may also exist. An overview of some of the most prominent application areas is provided here. Based on the application domain, IoT products can be classified broadly into five different categories: smart wearable, smart home, smart city, smart environment, and smart enterprise. The IoT products and solutions in each of these markets have different characteristics.[49]


In order to hone into the manner in which the Internet of Things (IoT), the Media and Big Data are interconnected, it is first necessary to provide some context into the mechanism used for media process. It has been suggested by Nick Couldry and Joseph Turow that Practitioners in Media approach Big Data as many actionable points of information about millions of individuals. The industry appears to be moving away from the traditional approach of using specific media environments such as newspapers, magazines, or television shows and instead tap into consumers with technologies that reach targeted people at optimal times in optimal locations. The ultimate aim is of course to serve, or convey, a message or content that is (statistically speaking) in line with the consumer’s mindset. For example, publishing environments are increasingly tailoring messages (advertisements) and content (articles) to appeal to consumers that have been exclusively gleaned through various data-mining activities.[50]

The media industries process Big Data in a dual, interconnected manner:

  • Targeting of consumers (for advertising by marketers)
  • Data-capture

Thus, the internet of things creates an opportunity to measure, collect and analyse an ever-increasing variety of behavioural statistics. Cross-correlation of this data could revolutionise the targeted marketing of products and services.[51] For example, as noted by Danny Meadows-Klue, the combination of analytics for conversion tracking, withbehavioural targeting and programmatic media has unlocked a new level of precision that enables display advertising to be focused on the devices of people with relevant interests.[52] Big Data and the IoT work in conjunction. From a media perspective, Data is the key derivative of device inter connectivity, whilst being pivotal in allowing clearer accuracy in targeting. The Internet of Things therefore transforms the media industry, companies and even governments, opening up a new era of economic growth and competitiveness. The wealth of data generated by this industry (i.e. Big Data) will allow Practitioners in Advertising and Media to gain an elaborate layer on the present targeting mechanisms utilised by the industry.

Environmental monitoring[edit]

Environmental monitoring applications of the IoT typically utilize sensors to assist in environmental protection by monitoring air or water quality,[14] atmospheric or soil conditions,[53] and can even include areas like monitoring the movements of wildlife and their habitats.[54] Development of resource[55] constrained devices connected to the Internet also means that other applications like earthquake or tsunami early-warning systems can also be used by emergency services to provide more effective aid. IoT devices in this application typically span a large geographic area and can also be mobile.[42]

Infrastructure management[edit]

Monitoring and controlling operations of urban and rural infrastructures like bridges, railway tracks, on- and offshore- wind-farms is a key application of the IoT.[56] The IoT infrastructure can be used for monitoring any events or changes in structural conditions that can compromise safety and increase risk. It can also be utilized for scheduling repair and maintenance activities in an efficient manner, by coordinating tasks between different service providers and users of these facilities.[42] IoT devices can also be used to control critical infrastructure like bridges to provide access to ships. Usage of IoT devices for monitoring and operating infrastructure is likely to improve incident management and emergency response coordination, and quality of service, up-times and reduce costs of operation in all infrastructure related areas.[57] Even areas such as waste management stand to benefit from automation and optimization that could be brought in by the IoT.[58]


Network control and management of manufacturing equipment, asset and situation management, or manufacturing process control bring the IoT within the realm on industrial applications and smart manufacturing as well.[59] The IoT intelligent systems enable rapid manufacturing of new products, dynamic response to product demands, and real-time optimization of manufacturing production and supply chain networks, by networking machinery, sensors and control systems together.[42]

Digital control systems to automate process controls, operator tools and service information systems to optimize plant safety and security are within the purview of the IoT.[56]But it also extends itself to asset management via predictive maintenance, statistical evaluation, and measurements to maximize reliability.[60] Smart industrial management systems can also be integrated with the Smart Grid, thereby enabling real-time energy optimization. Measurements, automated controls, plant optimization, health and safety management, and other functions are provided by a large number of networked sensors.[42]

Energy management[edit]

Integration of sensing and actuation systems, connected to the Internet, is likely to optimize energy consumption as a whole.[42] It is expected that IoT devices will be integrated into all forms of energy consuming devices (switches, power outlets, bulbs, televisions, etc.) and be able to communicate with the utility supply company in order to effectively balance power generation and energy usage.[61] Such devices would also offer the opportunity for users to remotely control their devices, or centrally manage them via a cloud based interface, and enable advanced functions like scheduling (e.g., remotely powering on or off heating systems, controlling ovens, changing lighting conditions etc.).[42] In fact, a few systems that allow remote control of electric outlets are already available in the market, e.g., Belkin’s WeMo,[62] Ambery Remote Power Switch,[63]Budderfly,[64] Telkonet’s EcoGuard [65] etc.

Besides home based energy management, the IoT is especially relevant to the Smart Grid since it provides systems to gather and act on energy and power-related information in an automated fashion with the goal to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics, and sustainability of the production and distribution of electricity.[61] UsingAdvanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) devices connected to the Internet backbone, electric utilities can not only collect data from end-user connections, but also manage other distribution automation devices like transformers and reclosers.[42]

Medical and healthcare systems[edit]

IoT devices can be used to enable remote health monitoring and emergency notification systems. These health monitoring devices can range from blood pressure and heart rate monitors to advanced devices capable of monitoring specialized implants, such as pacemakers or advanced hearing aids.[42] Specialized sensors can also be equipped within living spaces to monitor the health and general well-being of senior citizens, while also ensuring that proper treatment is being administered and assisting people regain lost mobility via therapy as well.[66] Other consumer devices to encourage healthy living, such as, connected scales or wearable heart monitors, are also a possibility with the IoT.[67] More and more end-to-end health monitoring IoT platform are coming up for antenatal and chronic patients, helping one manage health vitals and recurring medication requirements. Distinct advantages over similar products from the US and Europe are cost-effectiveness and personalisation for chronic patients. Doctors can monitor the health of their patients on their smartphones after the patient gets discharged from the hospital.[68]

Building and home automation[edit]

IoT devices can be used to monitor and control the mechanical, electrical and electronic systems used in various types of buildings (e.g., public and private, industrial, institutions, or residential).[42] Home automation systems, like other building automation systems, are typically used to control lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, appliances, communication systems, entertainment and home security devices to improve convenience, comfort, energy efficiency, and security.[69][70]

Home automation and home security is also a major step forward when it comes to applying IoT. All these advances add to the numerous list of IoT applications. Now with IoT, you can control the electrical devices installed in your house while you are sorting out your files in office. Your water will be warm as soon as you get up in the morning for the shower. All credit goes to smart devices which make up the smart home. Everything connected with the help of Internet.[71]


The IoT can assist in integration of communications, control, and information processing across various transportation systems. Application of the IoT extends to all aspects of transportation systems, i.e. the vehicle, the infrastructure, and the driver or user. Dynamic interaction between these components of a transport system enables inter and intra vehicular communication, smart traffic control, smart parking, electronic toll collection systems, logistic and fleet management, vehicle control, and safety and road assistance.[42]

Large scale deployments[edit]

There are several planned or ongoing large-scale deployments of the IoT, to enable better management of cities and systems. For example, Songdo, South Korea, the first of its kind fully equipped and wired smart city, is near completion. Nearly everything in this city is planned to be wired, connected and turned into a constant stream of data that would be monitored and analyzed by an array of computers with little, or no human intervention.[citation needed]

Another application is a currently undergoing project in Santander, Spain. For this deployment, two approaches have been adopted. This city of 180000 inhabitants, has already seen 18000 city application downloads for their smartphones. This application is connected to 10000 sensors that enable services like parking search, environmental monitoring, digital city agenda among others. City context information is utilized in this deployment so as to benefit merchants through a spark deals mechanism based on city behavior that aims at maximizing the impact of each notification.[72]

Other examples of large-scale deployments underway include the Sino-Singapore Guangzhou Knowledge City;[73] work on improving air and water quality, reducing noise pollution, and increasing transportation efficiency in San Jose, California;[74] and smart traffic management in western Singapore.[75]

French company, Sigfox, commenced building an ultra-narrowband wireless data network in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014, the first business to achieve such a deployment in the U.S.[76][77] It subsequently announced it would set up a total of 4000 base stations to cover a total of 30 cities in the U.S. by the end of the 2016, making it the largest IoT network coverage provider in the country thus far.[78][79]

Another example of a large deployment is the one completed by New York Waterways in New York City to connect all their vessels and being able to monitor them live 24/7. The network was designed and engineered by Fluidmesh Networks, a Chicago-based company developing wireless networks for critical applications. The NYWW network is currently providing coverage on the Hudson River, East River, and Upper New York Bay. With the wireless network in place, NY Waterway is able to take control of its fleet and passengers in a way that was not previously possible. New applications can include security, energy and fleet management, digital signage, public Wi-Fi, paperless ticketing and others.[citation needed]

Unique addressability of things[edit]

The original idea of the Auto-ID Center is based on RFID-tags and unique identification through the Electronic Product Code however this has evolved into objects having an IP address or URI.

An alternative view, from the world of the Semantic Web[80] focuses instead on making all things (not just those electronic, smart, or RFID-enabled) addressable by the existing naming protocols, such as URI. The objects themselves do not converse, but they may now be referred to by other agents, such as powerful centralized servers acting for their human owners.

The next generation of Internet applications using Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) would be able to communicate with devices attached to virtually all human-made objects because of the extremely large address space of the IPv6 protocol. This system would therefore be able to scale to the large numbers of objects envisaged.[81]

A combination of these ideas can be found in the current GS1/EPCglobal EPC Information Services[82] (EPCIS) specifications. This system is being used to identify objects in industries ranging from aerospace to fast moving consumer products and transportation logistics.[83]

Trends and characteristics[edit]

Technology Roadmap: Internet of Things


Ambient intelligence and autonomous control are not part of the original concept of the Internet of Things. Ambient intelligence and autonomous control do not necessarily require Internet structures, either. However, there is a shift in research to integrate the concepts of the Internet of Things and autonomous control,[84] with initial outcomes towards this direction considering objects as the driving force for autonomous IoT.[85][86] In the future the Internet of Things may be a non-deterministic and open network in which auto-organized or intelligent entities (Web services, SOAcomponents), virtual objects (avatars) will be interoperable and able to act independently (pursuing their own objectives or shared ones) depending on the context, circumstances or environments. Autonomous behavior through collecting and reasoning context information plays a significant role in IoT. Modern IoT products and solutions in the marketplace use variety of different technologies to support such context-aware automation.[87]

Embedded intelligence[88] presents an “AI-oriented” perspective of Internet of Things, which can be more clearly defined as: leveraging the capacity to collect and analyze the digital traces left by people when interacting with widely deployed smart things to discover knowledge about human life, environment interaction, as well as social inter connection and related behaviors.


The system will likely be an example of event-driven architecture,[89] bottom-up made (based on the context of processes and operations, in real-time) and will consider any subsidiary level. Therefore, model driven and functional approaches will coexist with new ones able to treat exceptions and unusual evolution of processes (Multi-agent systems, B-ADSc, etc.).

In an Internet of Things, the meaning of an event will not necessarily be based on a deterministic or syntactic model but would instead be based on the context of the event itself: this will also be a semantic web.[90] Consequently, it will not necessarily need common standards that would not be able to address every context or use: some actors (services, components, avatars) will accordingly be self-referenced and, if ever needed, adaptive to existing common standards (predicting everything would be no more than defining a “global finality” for everything that is just not possible with any of the current top-down approaches and standardizations). Some researchers argue that sensor networks are the most essential components of the Internet of Things.[91]

Building on top of the Internet of Things, the Web of Things is an architecture for the application layer of the Internet of Things looking at the convergence of data from IoT devices into Web applications to create innovative use-cases.

Complex system[edit]

In semi-open or closed loops (i.e. value chains, whenever a global finality can be settled) it will therefore be considered and studied as a Complex system[92] due to the huge number of different links and interactions between autonomous actors, and its capacity to integrate new actors. At the overall stage (full open loop) it will likely be seen as achaotic environment (since systems have always finality).

Size considerations[edit]

The Internet of objects would encode 50 to 100 trillion objects, and be able to follow the movement of those objects. Human beings in surveyed urban environments are each surrounded by 1000 to 5000 trackable objects.[93]

Space considerations[edit]

In an Internet of Things, the precise geographic location of a thing—and also the precise geographic dimensions of a thing—will be critical. Open Geospatial Consortium,“OGC Abstract Specification” Currently, the Internet has been primarily used to manage information processed by people. Therefore, facts about a thing, such as its location in time and space, have been less critical to track because the person processing the information can decide whether or not that information was important to the action being taken, and if so, add the missing information (or decide to not take the action). (Note that some things in the Internet of Things will be sensors, and sensor location is usually important. Mike Botts et al., “OGC Sensor Web Enablement: Overview And High Level Architecture”) The GeoWeb and Digital Earth are promising applications that become possible when things can become organized and connected by location. However, challenges that remain include the constraints of variable spatial scales, the need to handle massive amounts of data, and an indexing for fast search and neighbour operations. If in the Internet of Things, things are able to take actions on their own initiative, this human-centric mediation role is eliminated, and the time-space context that we as humans take for granted must be given a central role in this information ecosystem. Just as standards play a key role in the Internet and the Web, geospatial standards will play a key role in the Internet of Things.


There are three core sectors of the IoT: enterprise, home, and government, with the Enterprise Internet of Things (EIoT) being the largest of the three. By 2019, the EIoT sector is estimated to account for nearly 40% or 9.1 billion devices.[94]

A Basket of Remotes[edit]

According to the CEO of Cisco, the remote control market is expected to be a $USD 19 trillion market.[95] Many IoT devices have a potential to take a piece of this market.Jean-Louis Gassée (Apple initial alumni team, and BeOS co-founder) has addressed this topic in an article on Monday Note,[96] where he predicts that the most likely problem will be what he calls the “Basket of remotes” problem, where we’ll have hundreds of applications to interface with hundreds of devices that don’t share protocols for speaking with one another.

There are multiple approaches to solve this problem, one of them called the “predictive interaction“,[97] where cloud or fog based decision makers [clarification needed] will predict the user’s next action and trigger some reaction.

For user interaction, new technology leaders are joining forces to create standards for communication between devices. While AllJoyn alliance is composed the top 20 World technology leaders, there are also big companies that promote their own protocol like CCF from Intel.

This problem is also a competitive advantage for some very technical startup companies with fast capabilities.

  • AT&T Digital Life provides one solution for the “basket of remotes” problem. This product features home-automation and digital-life experiences. It provides a mobile application to control their closed ecosystem of branded devices;
  • Nuve has developed a new technology based on sensors, a cloud-based platform and a mobile application that allows the asset management industry to better protect, control and monitor their property.[98]
  • Muzzley motd controls multiple devices with a single application[99] and has had many manufacturers use their API[100] to provide a learning ecosystem that really predicts the end-user next actions. Muzzley is known for being the first generation of platforms that has the ability to predict form learning the end-user outside World relations with “things”.
  • my shortcut[101] is an approach that also includes a set of already-defined devices and allow a Siri-Like [clarification needed] interaction between the user and the end devices. The user is able to control his or her devices using voice commands;[102]
  • Realtek “IoT my things” is an application that aims to interface with a closed ecosystem of Realtek devices like sensors and light controls.[citation needed]

Manufacturers are becoming more conscious of this problem, and many companies have begun releasing their devices with open APIs. Many of these APIs are used by smaller companies looking to take advantage of quick integration.[citation needed]

Sub systems[edit]

Not all elements in an Internet of Things will necessarily run in a global space. Domotics running inside a Smart House, for example, might only run and be available via a local network.


Internet of Things frameworks might help support the interaction between “things” and allow for more complex structures like Distributed computing and the development ofDistributed applications. Currently, some Internet of Things frameworks seem to focus on real time data logging solutions like Jasper Technologies, Inc. and Xively (formerly Cosm and before that Pachube): offering some basis to work with many “things” and have them interact. Future developments might lead to specific Software development environments to create the software to work with the hardware used in the Internet of Things. Companies such as Arrayent,[103][104][105] B-Scada,[106][107] Carriots,[108][109]EVRYTHNG,[110] Exosite,[111][112][113], nPhase,[114] Raco Wireless[115][116] and ThingWorx[117][118][119] are developing technology platforms to provide this type of functionality for the Internet of Things.

The XMPP standards foundation XSF is creating such a framework in a fully open standard that isn’t tied to any company and not connected to any cloud services. This XMPP initiative is called Chatty Things.[120] XMPP provides a set of needed building blocks and a proven distributed solution that can scale with high security levels. The extensions are published at XMPP/extensions

The independently developed MASH IoT Platform was presented at the 2013 IEEE IoT conference in Mountain View, CA. MASH’s focus is asset management (assets=people/property/information, management=monitoring/control/configuration). Support is provided for design thru deployment with an included IDE, Android client and runtime. Based on a component modeling approach MASH includes support for user defined things and is completely data-driven.[121]

REST is a scalable architecture which allows for things to communicate over Hypertext Transfer Protocol and is easily adopted for IoT applications to provide communication from a thing to a central web server. MQTT is a publish-subscribe architecture on top of TCP/IP which allows for bi-directional communication between a thing and a MQTT broker.

Criticism and controversies[edit]

While many technologists tout the Internet of Things as a step towards a better world, scholars and social observers have doubts about the promises of the ubiquitous computing revolution.

Civic Engagement and Politics[edit]

Philip N. Howard, a professor and technology writer, argues that the Internet of Things is not just about consumer conveniences but civic engagement and political life. He argues that it will collect immense amounts of almost perfect behavioral data that is ultimately useful for informing political decisions. His book Pax Technica (2015) advocates for more public input in infrastructure design and more civic engagement with how this information infrastructure gets built.[122]

Privacy, autonomy and control[edit]

Peter-Paul Verbeek, a professor of philosophy of technology at the University of Twente, Netherlands, writes that technology already influences our moral decision making, which in turns affects human agency, privacy and autonomy. He cautions against viewing technology merely as a human tool and advocates instead to consider it as an active agent.[123]

Justin Brookman, of the Center for Democracy and Technology, expressed concern regarding the impact of IoT on consumer privacy, saying that “There are some people in the commercial space who say, ‘Oh, big data — well, let’s collect everything, keep it around forever, we’ll pay for somebody to think about security later.’ The question is whether we want to have some sort of policy framework in place to limit that.”[124]

Tim O’Reilly believes that the way companies sell the IoT devices on consumers are misplaced, disputing the notion that the IoT is about gaining efficiency from putting all kinds of devices online and postulating that “IoT is really about human augmentation. The applications are profoundly different when you have sensors and data driving the decision-making.”.[125]

Editorials at WIRED have also expressed concern, one stating ‘What you’re about to lose is your privacy. Actually, it’s worse than that. You aren’t just going to lose your privacy, you’re going to have to watch the very concept of privacy be rewritten under your nose.’[126]

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) expressed concern regarding the ability of IoT to erode people’s control over their own lives. The ACLU wrote that “There’s simply no way to forecast how these immense powers — disproportionately accumulating in the hands of corporations seeking financial advantage and governments craving ever more control — will be used. Chances are Big Data and the Internet of Things will make it harder for us to control our own lives, as we grow increasingly transparent to powerful corporations and government institutions that are becoming more opaque to us.”[127]

Researchers have identified privacy challenges faced by all stakeholders in IoT domain, from the manufacturers and app developers to the consumers themselves, and examined the responsibility of each party in order to ensure user privacy at all times. Problems highlighted by the report[128] include:

  • User consent – somehow, the report says, users need to be able to give informed consent to data collection. Users, however, have limited time and technical knowledge.
  • Freedom of choice – both privacy protections and underlying standards should promote freedom of choice. For example, the study notes,[129] users need a free choice of vendors in their smart homes; and they need the ability to revoke or revise their privacy choices.
  • Anonymity – IoT platforms pay scant attention to user anonymity when transmitting data, the researchers note. Future platforms could, for example, use TOR or similar technologies so that users can’t be too deeply profiled based on the behaviors of their “things”.


Concerns have been raised that the Internet of Things is being developed rapidly without appropriate consideration of the profound security challenges involved and the regulatory changes that might be necessary.[130] According to the BI (Business Insider) Intelligence Survey conducted in the last quarter of 2014, 39% of the respondents said that security is the biggest concern in adopting Internet of Things technology.[131] In particular, as the Internet of Things spreads widely, cyber attacks are likely to become an increasingly physical (rather than simply virtual) threat.[132] In a January 2014 article in Forbes, cybersecurity columnist Joseph Steinberg listed many Internet-connected appliances that can already “spy on people in their own homes” including televisions, kitchen appliances, cameras, and thermostats.[133] Computer-controlled devices in automobiles such as brakes, engine, locks, hood and truck releases, horn, heat, and dashboard have been shown to be vulnerable to attackers who have access to the onboard network. (These devices are currently not connected to external computer networks, and so are not vulnerable to Internet attacks.)[134]

The U.S. National Intelligence Council in an unclassified report maintains that it would be hard to deny “access to networks of sensors and remotely-controlled objects by enemies of the United States, criminals, and mischief makers… An open market for aggregated sensor data could serve the interests of commerce and security no less than it helps criminals and spies identify vulnerable targets. Thus, massively parallel sensor fusion may undermine social cohesion, if it proves to be fundamentally incompatible with Fourth-Amendment guarantees against unreasonable search.”[135] In general, the intelligence community views Internet of Things as a rich source of data.[136]

Children and the Internet of Things[edit]

It has been suggested by Sonia Livingstone OBE that young people are the target of a range of policy initiatives designed to realise the benefits of new developments in the internet while minimising the potential risks. These are often developed, of necessity, in the absence of rigorous empirical data, making an informed assessment of access, attitudes, skills and uses essential. The key ideas that reveal the complex dynamic between online opportunities and online risks include:

  • Digital in/exclusion
  • Learning and literacy
  • Peer networking and privacy
  • Civic participation
  • Risk and harm

This research raises key questions regarding identity, literacy, privacy, participation and risk which are all key issues in relation to IoT developments.[137]

Data capture, or Big Data, is a key starting point whilst considering the effects of the IoT on young people.


Given widespread recognition of the evolving nature of the design and management of the Internet of Things, sustainable and secure deployment of Internet of Things solutions must design for “anarchic scalability.”[138] Application of the concept of anarchic scalability can be extended to physical systems (i.e. controlled real-world objects), by virtue of those systems being designed to account for uncertain management futures. This “hard anarchic scalabilty” thus provides a pathway forward to fully realize the potential of Internet of Things solutions by selectively constraining physical systems to allow for all management regimes without risking physical failure.

Brown University computer scientist Michael Littman has argued that successful execution of the Internet of Things requires consideration of the interface’s usability as well as the technology itself. These interfaces need to be not only more user friendly but also better integrated: “If users need to learn different interfaces for their vacuums, their locks, their sprinklers, their lights, and their coffeemakers, it’s tough to say that their lives have been made any easier.”[139]

Environmental impact[edit]

A concern regarding IoT technologies pertains to the environmental impacts of the manufacture, use, and eventual disposal of all these semiconductor-rich devices. Modern electronics are replete with a wide variety of heavy metals and rare-earth metals, as well as highly toxic synthetic chemicals. This makes them extremely difficult to properly recycle. Electronic components are often simply incinerated or dumped in regular landfills, thereby polluting soil, groundwater, surface water, and air. Such contamination also translates into chronic human-health concerns. Furthermore, the environmental cost of mining the rare-earth metals that are integral to modern electronic components continues to grow. With production of electronic equipment growing globally yet little of the metals (from end-of-life equipment) being recovered for reuse, the environmental impacts can be expected to increase.

Also, because the concept of IoT entails adding electronics to mundane devices (for example, simple light switches), and because the major driver for replacement of electronic components is often technological obsolescence rather than actual failure to function, it is reasonable to expect that items that previously were kept in service for many decades would see an accelerated replacement cycle, if they were part of the IoT. For example, a traditional house built with 30 light switches and 30 electrical outlets might stand for 50 years, with all those components still being original at the end of that period. But a modern house built with the same number of switches and outlets set up for IoT might see each switch and outlet replaced at five-year intervals, in order to keep up-to-date with technological changes. This translates into a ten-fold increase in waste requiring disposal.

While IoT devices can serve as energy-conservation equipment, it is important to keep in mind that everyday good habits can bring the same benefits[citation needed]. Practical, fundamental considerations such as these are often overlooked by marketers eager to induce consumers to purchase IoT items that may never have been needed in the first place[citation needed].


Kevin Ashton, the originator of the term “Internet of Things”, revealed to the BBC that he now wishes he had phrased the IoT as the “Internet for Things”.[140]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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