Internet of Things (IoT) and our future

January 13, 2015 - 48 Comments

As an Information Technology professional I believe that IT is changing and will keep changing the way we live and of course our future. IoT (Internet of Things) has been a major topic of discussion, especially in 2014.

Everyone predicts that in the near future almost everything will be connected to the Internet, and will have its own IP address.  Connectivity not only includes PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphone, but coffee machines, refrigerators, TVs, washing machines, microwaves ovens, cookers, closets, etc…

I am afraid that one day the refrigerator will refuse to open because it reads my mind about wanting chocolates, and finds that I am overweight. The next day my car will not drive me home, but to the local gym after checking my schedule and finding some free time. Then it will kick me out saying, “Go do some exercises, your extra weight consumes more fuel, and my chassis will not endure until next summer!” Thank goodness it’s just a dream right now. I don’t even own a car, and will never think about buying a smart internet connected refrigerator, simply because it’s very expensive. 🙂

In this article I will share my thoughts and raise questions about four main factors related to IoT’s future:

  • IP addressing
  • Renewable energy sources for mobile things
  • Reasonable and affordable systems
  • Community safety and security

IP addressing

In 2012, the number of Internet-connected devices exceeded the number of people on earth, and about 25 billion objects will be Internet-connected by 2020. The numbers are amazing, but in order for IoT to reach its full potential I think we will need more IP addresses than we are currently anticipating.

If we look back to the 90’s Dr. Vinton G. Cerf, aka the “Father of the Internet”, showed up with his T-shirt “IP on Everything”. He had a strong vision about IP and the way we should use it. So how can IoT reach its full potential?

IPv6 is the most promising solution right now. When IPv4 was introduced no one imagined the future size of the Internet. IPv4 only had the capacity to handle 4.3 billion addresses, while Ipv6 can handle about 340,282,366,920,938,463,463,374,607,431,768,211,456 address. Will IPv6 be enough for IoT devices and objects? Until now it seemed the answer was yes. But what about tomorrow and the day after tomorrow? 🙂

In most of today’s IoT systems, sensors collect data and use wireless connectivity to forward it to the controllers. The controllers which are IP-Enabled gather the raw data and forward it across an IP network to the online application in order to process the data, which allows individuals to access the controller remotely. Many sensors are connected to one controller, which connects to the IP network using a IP address. This means many sensors share one IP address. Now there are IP-Enabled sensors that support TCP/IP, which removes the need for a controller. Will that start a new model where sensors and controllers are combined in one system, like a wearable PC? If so this will increase the demands of new IP addresses.

For example in agriculture instead of one weather station for the whole orchard, maybe every tree will have its own internet connected microcomputer device, which will have a lot of sensors and data collected by those sensors, sent over WLAN or the Internet to farmer system software which manages the orchard. This means every tree will have an IP address to connect to the WLAN and the internet. I don’t think that will be limited to orchards only. Cattle farms already use simple wireless sensors to report the temperature of the cattle and detect illnesses early. Maybe every cow in the future will wear its own computing device, so it will need its own IP address. Maybe in the future we will see new technologies like: COIP (Cattle over IP), TOIP (Tree over IP) & POIP (Pet over IP). 🙂

So with the need for new IP addresses will IPv6 be enough? Are we going to have IPv8? IPv4 is 32bit and IPv6 is 128bit. Will IPv8 be 512bit or even 1024 bit?  Who knows. 🙂

I don’t know if anyone thinks about life after IPv6, but with the IoT evolution, and the increased demand for its services, I am sure a final answer will be found.

Renewable energy sources for mobile things

Many simple IoT devices and sensors use radio waves to generate power and operate. Things like coffee machines, traffic lights, cars and most fixed electrical objects will have their own power source.

But what about cattle, pets and trees? How will their wearable devices be powered? Mobility is one of the main problems IoT will face and I think renewable energy sources could be a possible solution.

Miniature photovoltaic systems could suit mobile things like cattle, while miniature wind turbines could be used for fixed things like trees.

Reasonable and affordable systems

Many consumer product manufacturers say that most devices will be connected to the Internet in the very near future. But do we need every device to be connected? For example, home washing machines. What’s the need of Internet connectivity for a washer? Saving detergent? Or is it just a feature to raise the product price in favor of the manufacturers not the consumer? Internet connected washing machines cost about 25,000 EGP ($3500) while my beautiful new normal washing machine costs me about 2,500 EGP ($350). In order for IoT to expand, connected devices need to be affordable for the regular consumer, so we can buy them instead of dream about them. 🙂

If we look back to the history of the personal computer we will remember that PCs were once large, slow and expensive. Now they’re small, extremely fast and affordable. In fact, most of us own multiple computing devices like PCs, Laptops, Smart phones and Tablets.

Community safety and security

IoT will increase our daily dependency on machines and our Information technology obsession. Is that  safe? Everyone talks about information security and privacy issues with IoT. I am not worried about it, because I know security professionals will handle them. 🙂

Community security will be the main issue not IT security. Although IoT offers a chance to ease our lives, it comes with a risk. Is IoT the beginning of a new era of Artificial Intelligence, eliminating the need for a human workforce? Will our remaining jobs be taken by robots? For example 3d printers can print the products we want at our home. We just need to buy and download the instructions.

Future generations will be raised in a world dependent on machines. What happens if they wake up and find that all the things they depend on malfunction due to natural disaster or attack? An EMP (Electromagnetic pulse) or a NNEMP (Non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse) weapon could fry electronics devices and send our communities back to the stone age. There is a famous quote “The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is usually interrupted by the man doing it”.

If you’ve watched movies like I, Robot, Terminator Salvation, The Matrix, etc., perhaps you’re asking yourself, “Is this the beginning of human extinction?” Of course not, I’m kidding 😉 But the future of IoT certainly sparks imaginations, including mine!

I am a member of the Cisco Champions Program. Cisco Champions are passionate about Cisco and enjoy sharing our knowledge, expertise, and thoughts across the social web and with Cisco. I am not a representative of Cisco. My views as a Cisco Champion are my own

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  1. Thank you so much 🙂

  2. intresting article

  3. nice article , and so intresting

  4. Nice blog. Thank you so much for briefing about this.

  5. Very interesting with a great sense of humor.

  6. Thank you so much, Moustapha 🙂 I’ll try to do my best 🙂

  7. Nice, interesting blog. But I’m wondering if we can use this technology in the field of state security, for example if we can use it in the army and internal security, and how we can use it.

    Nice work and keep going…

    • Thank you so much, Ziad 🙂 Yes, of course it will be used in state security and military. But, the cost will be our own privacy. Do you remember “Enemy of the State” movie?

  8. Its was a very good article and I have learned some new terms and concept great work ….

  9. we’re waiting your next article from now. Keep it up

  10. This is interesting. Thank you for the information!

  11. The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is usually interrupted by the man doing it”.

    It’s a very interesting article and nice thoughts which were raised above.

    waiting your next blog.

  12. Congratulation for the interesting article.

  13. It is really relevant topic as far as technological progress doesn’t stop. And I think all of what you mentioned in the beginning of your post is going to happened in real. We have a lot of services right now which do your thinking for you. Assignment Mountain for example.

  14. Great work! , #Internet Of Everything 😉

  15. Well done, Mohamed. I’m with Kim’s advice.

  16. Nice to read your blog and it was like a trip back to the future..too many things about IoT taught in simple blog…thanks..

  17. Congratulation for your article. Really interesting. Thanks

  18. Great topic , seems like a window to the future 🙂
    there is no doubt that world is moving so fast for those ideas to be a part of our life , & i like that 🙂

    .., but sometimes i miss the old days with less technology , some times i feel that 1980s-90s tech. are totaly enough for humans to keep life “humaneness” 🙂

    for me if i will pick a tool from the future , i’ll choose controling devices & smart machines by mind .

  19. IoT will facilitate monitoring and controlling the entire world from the internet controllers as intelligence agencies, technology companies, RIRs, LIRs, hackers, and artificial intelligence etc…
    In this case, the human being in danger.. Luxury will be against security and confidentiality

    • Thank you so much Maher 🙂 I think many will choose luxury instead of security at the beginning, but of course there will be a resistance 🙂 so we should start searching for Neo 😉

      • Thank you Mohamed.

        Looking to the future, IoT will lead to SoT (security OT) and MMoT (Monitoring & Management) which will increase these types of business which will change the entire physical and logical security concepts and the way it will be centralized for monitoring and management via NOCs and SOCs in the “clouds”. 😀

  20. an interesting post and very informative and useful (y) keep up the good work Mohamed 🙂

  21. A very nice blog. I remembered a speech by one of technology philosophers saying that by 2030, There will be a new introduced term called “Technocracy” means the technology will rule the world, in other words, the global technology companies will be the actual rulers of the world. This is thanks to IoT. 🙂

    • Thank you so much Yousry 🙂 It’s nice to hear from you again 🙂

    • There is a word called Technocracy. It was coined by an organizational specialist in the 1980s referring to organizations that were run by technocrates.

      • Thank you so much Kim 🙂 I think after IoT it will be thingocracy and thingcrates 😉

  22. Nice one Mohamed, and it is really of great intrest of me for the last 5 years with revolution of sensor clouds and connected appliances (for me at least)

    Glad to see that my point of view in people was (and I hope it is still) right.

  23. Thanks for this interest post, it has lots of imaginations for future IoT that I didn’t think of 🙂

    My main concern with IoT is Security and Privacy as well the human dependency on electronics and machine.

    As we get more and more depended on these smart devices, we tend to do a lot less on our side and to rely more on these devices.
    At the end these devices will break at some point, leaving the human clueless on what to do at that instant since his loyal dependency on the device.

    I beleive it will take a dacade or more before we rollout IPv8… 🙂

    • Thank you so much Avioz 🙂 I don’t disagree with you 🙂
      Albert Einstein once said “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

  24. Nicely done. One piece of advice. If you do end up with one of those smart fridges, keep your chocolate elsewhere!