Emerging Tech

The Internet of Things: What you need to know

The Internet of Things has emerged as one of IT's hottest trends of 2013. We have a great set of resources to help you figure out how it can help your business.

TechRepublic and ZDNet combined to create a special feature on the Internet of Things.

Up until 2012, the undisputed hottest topic in IT for several years in a row had been cloud computing. Then, big data stepped in and arguably stole the crown last year. For 2013, there's likely to be a new top dog: The Internet of Things.

Also known as IoT or machine-to-machine (M2M), The Internet of Things is all about sensors that can connect lots of formerly-mundane objects to the Internet and automatically send their data to IT systems for analysis. The objects can be everything from health care monitors to traffic lights to thermostats to trains.

To help you get up to speed on what M2M is, why it's important, and how it can potentially help your organization, TechRepublic and ZDNet have collaborated to create a special feature on the Internet of Things. We've drawn on expertise from the four regions where we have teams of journalists: the U.S., Europe, Australia, and Asia.

We've kicked it off with a series of articles that are highly practical and take you on a deep dive of the topic. Some of what you'll find in the series includes:

  • A technology primer
  • A look at the business benefits
  • An executive's guide
  • A research survey on what your peers are doing and planning for M2M
  • A look at the security implications
  • Multiple case studies
  • Vendor directories (for U.S., EMEA, Asia, and Australia)

A lot of today's technology journalism has become hyper, unstructured, ephemeral, and ranting. (And we're pointing the finger at ourselves as well). However, you can look at this joint ZDNet-TechRepublic series as our counter-point to that. We're serving the business technology audience with a package of content that is actionable, resourceful, and grounded in the real world. We are doing one of these deep dives every month in 2013 and our global team of over 35 journalists is dedicating an important chunk of their time to making sure we do it right.

Access our special feature on IoT by following the link below. The package is published on ZDNet, but again, it is a collaboration between ZDNet and TechRepublic editors across the globe.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

38 comments
KellyFriedman
KellyFriedman

These are exciting times, indeed. The only thing that will leave me hesitant at first is the possibility of hacking. When these technologies first become readily available and used in a more widespread manner I have a feeling hackers will be having a field day!

Aryabhatta
Aryabhatta

...would you want to add every little thing to a system which has shown itself to be vulnerable to access breakdowns, hacking, malware, viruses, and snooping by corporations and governments? Do you really need your fridge to text you that you're low on milk, your lawn to tell you it needs mowing, the litterbox to tell you that Kitty's poop quota has been filled, your jogging shoes to let you know that your arches are falling or your toothbrush to tell you its time for a new one? We complain about a nanny state, but we complacently relinquish control of zillions of personal interactions to the "cloud" or some algorithm which allegedly determines the optimal usage for thousands of products you use, and of course the fact that unknown data mining companies are sifting through all your data to sell your profile to the highest bidder. It used to be that (supposedly) only businesses registered with the Big3 credit rating agencies had access to your profile, and had to have a legitimate reason to look at it. Today, for as little as $35, anyone can get it, and for a bit more, your driving record, your arrest record, your school records, your medical records, your property records, your grocery buying profile and more. It's all about making money off your data, and your privacy be damned. And we happily give them even more of our personal data to sell to criminals in Russia and Brazil, spooks in Beijing and Langley, corporate crooks in insurance companies and law firms. I just don't get it.

GsyMoo
GsyMoo

Well, I recently purchased a new All-In-One printer which I can control wonderfully easily via the Net, I have a Smart TV I can ping movies to from the comfort of my Android, all my devices sync up via the Big G, the Facilities Management company I work for controls the Building BMS for several of our clients remotely from their office, and I'm installing a load of modbus/ethernet/sip kit for a client so they can monitor their Comms Room PDUs & UPS live load data and condition from an office in Edinburgh . I'm glad we have a new name for it. . . . .

paperera
paperera

...especially if some advertiser is harvesting all this data to make "correlations" about us.

InfoStack
InfoStack

M2M needs robust, low-cost, ubiquitous access (wired and wireless). The over-priced, poor quality, silo-ed and non-ubiquitous broadband service providers stand in the way of M2M scaling the visions in the article of being achieved. Their vertical business models stand in the way of a horizontally scaled, digital future. It reminds me of how Web 1.0 ran smack into the narrow-band dial-up and mobile brickwalls in 1999. While much appears to have changed in 14 years, the reality is that bandwidth costs/speeds for wireless and fiber are 20-150x higher than and 5-10 years behind where they should be as evidenced by Google Fiber and 802.11ac vs 4G.

Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182
Murfski-19971052791951115876031193613182

Where's that fix? I'm having the same problem. I couldn't find this specific problem, but going back to FF17 seemed to fix a bunch of other problems for other users.

Snak
Snak

Apparently the lightbulb in the lounge has blown and there's a strange cat stalking my bird table. The dustcart has been, but they've spilled an empty tin on the pavement. The letterbox reports that a council officer has left a note about it. The washing machine is screaming at me to empty it and the greenhouse is complaining that there's too much snow. The tree in the back garden reports 43 sparrows, 23 starlings and a partridge. It wants to know if it's a Pear tree, despite it being programmed to be a Willow. My Front Door Report lists 4 callers, not including the council worker. Apparently 2 were salespeople (the door has made an appointment for 7.00pm tonight with one of them) and 2 people begging for charity. The roof reports that it dropped a tonne of snow on them as they left. The chimney is complaining - apparently the guttering has come loose and is waving about in the wind splashing the chimney with dirty water. I assume that the guttering did not contact me itself because the connection is broken. Damn... I have to go... the fridge has just emailed me to tell me there's a power cut and the UPS is running low... I'm sorry - it's Monday.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Thanks, guys, for the positive replies to my comment above (although I did have a negative vote initially). I never meant to denigrate the technology, just make fun of the slogan and the way these people go after naming the new "Next Big Thing". I guess it gives them something to talk about and sound cool. I used to work for a guy that would come into the office and spout things like that that he had just heard. He didn't know anything about it, but wanted everyone to think he did. Deadly Ernest said it much more comprehensibly than I did.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

I posted this in response to another discussion on this issue and felt it should be here too. About ten years ago I read a magazine article about a group of apartment complexes built in Japan where EVERYTHING in the apartment was computer controlled - they were turned on, off, up, down, and monitored by the computer. You could prepare your evening meal and put it in the oven, program the oven application in the computer with the time heat etc (with a multitude of adjustments), and leave for work; when you arrive home the meal is ready as per what you programmed. Also the air-conditioner turned on at the right time and the apartment is just how you want it. It also included a fridge that kept track of what's in it and prepared your grocery list for you, all you did was confirm it or amend it on the PC and send it off to the store to have it delivered when you get home that night. In some they even had them set to prepare breakfast of a morning, including controlling the toaster and coffee maker. Now, I see this as much the same as that, except someone has decided they need to put it all out on the Internet, but I fail to see the need to do that. I know if I had a house with all these appliances I'd make damn sure that my Internet access had a router that did NOT allow them access to the Internet at all as I don't want stuff going out unless I've approved it. Now, as to how this can be useful - think live telemetry on anything you want and using Ethernet or wi-fi or Bluetooth to send and capture the signals. I can see how useful this would be in a production environment to help with monitoring the production machinery, ad wi-fi or Bluetooth options would reduce the cabling but increase the possibility of EM messing the signal or competitors listening in by parking nearby. With all your production gear hooked up and monitoring via Ethernet in segregated LANs for each line there is benefit. I can also see it being used to provide more remote monitoring in some medical environments. It can also be useful to help with monitoring and managing gardening with computer controlled watering devices etc. Also good for computer controlled access to buildings and rooms can be done by Ethernet instead of lots of dedicated cables. Again, you do NOT want this on the Internet but on a LAN. Beyond those uses it's more likely just a fancy toy set up.

Regulus
Regulus

I'm curios. Let's see where this goes.

Kim SJ
Kim SJ

I'm delighted to see it is finally becomming the new hot topic. I look forward to your coverage!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I won't comment here on this latest trend / buzzword, but I like the approach. I look forward to subsequent topics.

JCitizen
JCitizen

of privacy controversy, medical security(HIPAA), and new regulations!

JCitizen
JCitizen

that looked complicated - I would probably just uninstall it and go to FileHippo for an older version. Seems easier to me - maybe not.

attila2
attila2

My microwave and stove won't turn on: the fridge report me for exceeding my daily calorie allowance.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Wish I'd thought of that. Great way to use humor to illustrate the absurdity it could be taken to.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I and every other half-serious bird watcher would kill for this capability. :D

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm having similar issues. I'm using Firefox 18, and I'm not sure that the problems didn't start after that most recent update. I'm seeing them both at work and at home, two different systems. Clicking Reply, Flag, or Edit generates a rotating icon that never stops. Also, if you view in 'Collapsed' mode, clicking a post title doesn't expand it. I don't have any problems in IE, but I dislike IE immensely. Short term, try right-clicking Reply to open it in a new tab.

BdeJong
BdeJong

That thing you described was soothing we had at home when I was young, I would do all of our chores as well and after a day at school my bed would be made and my drink was set on the table as my favorite TV show just started. Strange thing though when I upgrade I got some COOL new features but lost most of the convenient ones. Maybe my upgrade path was incorrect or I didn't get the rollup, I went straight form the stable version of "MOM" to the spiffy new "Wife" hard/software combo, any ideas anyone?

333239
333239

he said it would be a "hot topic". Cloud storage and big data have been around a while too, but have gained prominence in the last couple of years so I think he means "becoming mainstream" rather than new. I worked on networked CCD camera and Oscilloscopes 20-odd years ago, so no-one can say that networked devices are new, but price of networking a simple device is probably at an all time low and we shall see more mundane devices becoming networked. As with any TCP/IP networked device, your router can decide what stays within the LAN or is exposed to the internet, so that is a non-issue. Devices themselves are also gaining increasing levels of security such that many can be directly connected to the internet and still be password protected, etc.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

Most of the topics we'll cover when we do these will be more based on here-and-now technologies.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

and another new "marketing" term for the pundits and lemmings to slaver over. I envision a pack of baying hounds as they run from one slogan to the next with drool dripping from their mouths. They keep getting sillier. Special place.... Sorry, guess I'm just jaded.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I was laughing so hard I clicked the down vote - I didn't mean to do that! :-bd

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

If Michelle Obama has her way, that could happen.

JCitizen
JCitizen

That would make a good film noir subject! HA!

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

Reply works on the Smart Planet pages, but not here. Strange... Don't know what's different (other than the green leaf on the tab rather than the TR flag). Edit doesn't work on either site.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

I think you may be right. I'm using FF 18 and I do believe the problem started after the update. I don't use IE either. It works in Chrome (whatever the latest version is). I did this one in the new tab like you suggested. Don't know why I didn't think of that as I have done that in the past for other issues. Thanks.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

it's all brand new off the presses. Of concern is the propensity in the US to have everything with its own sim and talking across the wireless broadband, if they do that with M2M household appliances you have no control over it getting out to the Internet. That would NOT be a good idea. The other side issue is often the average user gets the router, takes it home, plugs it in, and away they go without setting up any security. Just drive around and see how many open wireless routers and networks you can find in your residential area - in mine there are six wireless networks and mine is the only one with any security on it as the others don't know better. I can see the same happening with all this stuff.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

but I had one of these as IT Manager and eventually CIO for over five years. She was the queen of Buzzword Bingo.

Michael Jay
Michael Jay

just 100% correct, back in the day we called this telemetry. Same thing just modern technology.

JCitizen
JCitizen

I like you prosaic language there mudpuppy! :^0

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

But, sitting in my living room, I see nine networks. Two are unsecured, the rest have varying levels, one of which is WEP. It's getting better. It used to be most were unsecured.

mudpuppy1
mudpuppy1

I also used to work for a guy who spouted acronyms and buzzwords just to look smart. Everyone saw through it, so I feel your pain.

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