The Internet of Things

To me this image captures the core of the internet of things perfectly: the virtual and the physical world get connected and fall into one world, allowing us to search the Internet for our car keys, to see when the kids get home if you are doing overtime at work, or to get a message when the usual 5 0clock traffic has nearly subsided.

When you think about it in those terms, the internet of things seems like a very desirable future. After all aren’t we sick of constantly searching for the car keys all of the time?

Well there seem to be endless opportunities created by the internet of things. But for now the future surrounding the internet of things is still quite unclear. However initial glimpses of it can be seen through applications of RFID technology.

RFID tags are small computer chips with an antenna that allow the chip to communicate wirelessly with a RFID reader. Already today some mobile phones can behave as RFID chips themselves. All kinds of RFID chips can be ‘virtually’ embedded on such phones, allowing people to use their phone for things such as a transport card for the London Underground, as an electronic purse, or even as a credit card. Trials for such applications are already being carried out.

Plenty of other applications of RFID technology have been thought of too, and are being developed or are already in use. For example modern car keys use RFID. Billboards may contain an RFID chip, if you move your mobile smartphone in front of the billboard, your mobile will automatically display the corresponding website. Japan has even developed a system for the visually impaired, where RFID chips embedded in the pavement report the exact location. The reader is embedded in the white walking cane.

Sharing clothes with you friends becomes safer as the risk of forgetting who you lent that new dress to could be eliminated. When she wants to borrow it for just one more week because Jess is turning 21 on the weekend, then forgets to return it, you simply enter “Where is my new dress?” into a search engine and the term, ask Google, he knows everything, becomes a reality.

So the Internet of Things, it is a vision. What will really happen when things, homes and cities become smart? What will happen when smart objects surround us in smart homes, offices, streets, and cities? I guess we will have to wait and see.

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